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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe


Storm’s coming.

Arrived back in the States two weeks ago already, in high spirits to be home yet wishing to still be there. Not double-minded, no—Scripture cautions against that twisting in the wind —but a twinned heart beating now in two places.

Two weeks home. Seems like two years, maybe more, so much heavier now with the weight of knowing what wasn’t known before.

Huffed up the ridge behind the homeplace this morning, breath coming harder than when these boots made the trip September last. Trees bloated with fruit now show branches blown bare, apples wizened and hollow, just hanging on. A late beauty of their own.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. But fall it does. [Balsam Range, 11-16-19]

A storm came through but didn’t see it coming. Should have, though.

But those prognosticators – the ones predicting whether the air’s feverish or chill, or when the tide’s moving out on a life – aren’t they wrong as often as right? What should a body do when there’s 50% chance of noxious rainfall, or 50% chance not?

Maybe find shelter, they say. Seek out the kind of folks who understand, have experience, will help.

Here is their number, they say, when you need them. Not if.

But might not, I say. That malignant storm might not reach my kith, my kin.

That storm’s blowing in the doors of many dwellings, they say, softly now. Look here, see the numbers.

Yes ma’am, we see, and respectfully so. We’re not asking why. Not why now, not why us. Why maybe are we so blessed that the storm kept away so long?

But that grief, it crawls across your chest like a many-legged thing.

Your baby girl, so small for such big hands to open her up to fix what’s not beating right.

His wife, shot through with sickness, hope leaking out through the holes.

My mama, my sister’s and brother’s too, her delicate bones like birds. Can they fly her across the valley of the shadow?

I’ve got a home in Glory Land that outshines the sun.
I’ve got a home in Glory Land that outshines the sun!
I’ve got a home in Glory Land that outshines the sun –
Way beyond the blue.

There’s evildoers and evildoing, but his wife and my mama, they fear nothing disease can do to them, knowing what’s on the other side. Even that baby, sporting a grin newly come from Glory, she’s not afraid.

But their quivery kin, can we help it? Pouring out our pain like the Psalmist did – water from a pitcher – but no swimming allowed. No ma’am, they don’t want that.

You, too, friend — you’re no stranger to Hard Times. That interloper comes to your door and tries to put his feet under your table just like he does mine.

But the Host, see, He was there first. Pouring the wine, breaking the bread of presence. His Presence. Saying come and sup, sister. Hard Times, you got no place here with my people.

Sometimes of a morning when I huff up that blue ridge, I walk a road with nobody on it. But on this bright Saturday it’s not a lonesome road at all. Not a single one passes but doesn’t raise their hand in fare-thee-well.

Your baby girl? His beloved wife? My precious mama? I’m telling you true. They will fare well. They’ll reach the Promised Land.

Just not yet.

My God, Lord of Hosts,
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23: 5-6. NLT

©2019, Maggie W. Rowe. Permission granted to share with attribution.

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The dwellers are gone, but their place on Wolfpen Ridge still stands in memory. 11-16-2019



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