I was reading Preston’s entry today at Deeper Story. I love that southern born boy who wants to see the world and write about it in an accent that goes down my ear easy. He was writing again about tables and the fare that we offer on them, the fellowship and deep truth which the things we partake there deposit into us. It reminded me of thoughts I started to chase as Karen made biscuits for me yesterday morning. I love biscuits – they are the comfort food I most crave. As I cannot seem to make them, my sister got all the biscuit making genes, I usually settle for my other favorite when I need some warmth or comfort – grits. Anyway, Karen got the genes from her mama/Granny and so has always made biscuits for me and all those she loves best. It’s been 20 years since I last ate her biscuits. She, of course, as all biscuit makers, was not pleased with the perfectly risen, golden brown glories she pulled from the oven. They were great. But, for me, greater than the actual biscuit is the act of biscuit making. Though I cannot work the magic myself, I have watched the conjuring a thousand times as the makers talked to me while the biscuits came to be under their touch. I first realized what she was going to do for me as I saw her haul the particular brand of flour down, pull the buttermilk – which had meandered to the back of the fridge free and heave down the Crisco can. I watched her hands, as I always have, bead the flour with the shortening and baptize it with the sweet-smelling milk, and then mix – not too much, the dough. She seemed to pay little attention, the whole for her muscle memory. I focused hard on love’s labor, through always near tears that come to be when I am with her. The biscuits were perfect, if by her standards, slightly tanned, like our sun-aged skin. Her’s less than mine, as her regimen has served her better than the absence of my own. We moved to the table, she serving my deepest hunger for sustenance that sticks, holds, and proves even in wilderness and before enemies that goodness is indeed my portion.
Tag Archives: friendship
I gathered myself and walked “my land,” once more, the soil giving tenderly beneath my boots. I listened, spoke out a few words I heard, then bowed my head and blessed back.
I drove out the drive full and free. But, I waited at the gate, I would not leave out first. I waited for her, probably making calls to encourage or in some way organize one of hers. She soon drew up beside me. I glanced through the western glare on her glass. I couldn’t see her behind it. But, I could still feel her fingers entwined in mine as we prayed, smell her lotion on my shirt. I knew how very much there she has always been.
She headed east and I back west, away from every stretch of soil I could ever call home.
I have a few more years here. Mine are not grown or gone, just yet. Bama children cannot imagine better. But, the time will come, soon enough, and my hands will again dig deep in that clay that stains me so…
We set out under quiet clouds, the rain light – gentle, a sacred circuit before us. We drove the carless roads, not alone. And all seemed slow and sweet and suspended. We moved down the mountain and worshipped awhile before the ancient and true…watching fins swim and whispering of earlier walks aside the water.
Littles climbed and squealed on rails while mammas held shirts fast, as our mammas had held ours, and we our children’s. This secret space we had found separately spread out before us, its stump buildings and signs government green, the most comforting color. It meant my Daddy was home, with me.
I stared at that space my little eyes had longed for, my older eyes still held as dear, and wondered that my friend, who never knew me little, had come to love this nearly unnamed place, 100 miles away, as well.
We turned south and rolled toward banks which built me, formed much of what named me, proper. The White house, not Little, or so colored, sat abreast the property. No one ruled from it, but its place was surely preeminent. I searched the gray ground for things I had unknowingly offered to St. Augustine and for my lure that fell into the concrete cracked across the spillway. I saw no mark of me, for the million miles I walked round and round, my rod in my hand. All left now were the memories I had sloughed off, like sunburned skin, hoping in vain, for no scarring.
As we started to leave, I saw my baby sister rubbing enchanting chub fingers over her “hand warmers.” We collected hundreds but forgot most of the smooth, pocket-sized alluvial stones. I leapt from the car to where she often sat gathering, and I stood scattering them against the smooth surface of our shallow pond. I bent down and put one in my pocket. I would not leave this one behind.
We turned west past all that had been my Pop’s land, the railway now a road-race practice place, and the neighborhood of my friend Stacey, whose pre-wedding antics still bring us great glee.
One more turn and we were headed back north to our temporary tabernacle. On my right lay the low smooth rocks and fat leeches of Flat Rock Park, where we played with underwear-only clad little crackers like us. We drove on, willing the wheels slower and slower, Quiet our companion. As we climbed, the music of our journey, seemingly made before the foundation…, softly speaking all into being, played soft. I reminded her of a drive we took, twenty-five years ago…and of songs she sang for me.
I could not stop the sun, I would have stilled it in such a moment forever…left my portion of more willingly. We sat silent as the engine ran against the now breaking sun, listening to music that sang my sufferings. She listened hard as the beauty blended with imagery of binds and blood. My shoulders and heart open to her…my tears sliding free, I let her look on, catch and chronicle each one.
The circle we traveled was like so many circles that had come to be in our lives. How many times had we returned to just where we started, the same and not so. All good stories circle back on themselves…
“And I fell heavy into your arms…”
We watched our team scrape by those hillbillies. We wear me out, scratch and scar my allegiance, every time. We didn’t move to eat. My posture was easing with the hour. I reclined upon her bed, eating what we used to: m&m’s by the big bag.
My stories all pulled free, there was nothing left to speak of save what mattered most: the “I can’t’s” and “I won’t’s.” In the quiet she offered me, the spillway ran free. Her hand upon my arm, my heart could hear the prayers she prayed for the dam to give way. And surely, at her silent words, the earthen/stoney wall started to shake. She purposefully, plainly, pulled me over to her, lifted me unto her, the way she might have her now 16-year-old son, who favors me. I almost protested…but stopped myself. The words met my heart before my ear, “I can hold you, all of you. I’ve always been able …I will always be able.”
Truth is, she bore me, same as that 6’2″ fella who will sling his own stones. She has held our fragile souls along our rough and sometimes stoney paths. She has rocked us each, smoothed our often crumpled brows and soothed us with her songs. She has been God to me: His hands upon me, His arms around me, His breast upon which I bellow what I cannot yet bring to words.
I relented, from my each and every effort, fell full against her.
I try to make you laugh – circling you with tales, like some jester.
You are waiting patiently for me to settle, secure.
It takes a while…you pour and sit me outside, I do me better there.
The air is still warm, summer’s sun hangs on long this far south.
My stories slow and enter valley places.
Your eyes never leave mine in doubt or distraction.
My voice breaks during a tiny scene of redemption in a drama of debt and death.
You ask me questions, eager to know more, this is a CSI case, not my confession of ineptitude and disgrace.
And suddenly, it seems to me, mine is story in search of a telling…a yarn of wonder, not a noose.
I have always eaten off of your table, chips and Cokes you never drank, before – but kept for me. I drove your car for us, kept mine gassed. I slept sound in your bed, mine settled across the road, in a crypt, where ghosts shook my sleep.
From day one, you took me up…an orphan. yours.
I stepped under shelter, you just before me, holding a door…tables turned back on me – the now mama to so many – back again – under your name, fed at your table, come to slumber aside you.
What little I know of this grace, I gained from you.
A simple plea flashed, “Come with me.”
The sky broke and I began to.
I drove in on roads that ran the backside of what I know, deeply know. All the same landforms seen from another side, I was home and at once abroad.
Gathering clouds whispered, “I will cover you.”
Goldenrod, Now’s scepter, roared with their liony heads, “Relent.”
Spiced straw, rust red and leggy, carpeted my entrance.
I have a friend, a fairly new one…She hasn’t known me that long, which might explain why this sweet woman is yet my friend. But, in that short time, she has loved me well. She understands and gives what I for one so need: an ear, connected to eyes that don’t easily narrow when I release steam or sigh deep.
She is everything I am not: organized and kind and patient. She is thorough and thoughtful and wise. I am really blessed to see her most everyday. You can tell how well I am doing by how many times my shadow darkens her door…if it does so many times, I am struggling and finding peace in her presence.
Today, is her birthday. I am the friend who does not remember such things much less a card or gift. But, I will remember her and the love she has shown me, long after I do not walk these halls between classes, in hopes of finding her, near.
Happy Birthday, my much younger friend. May all your years be sweetened the way you have sweetened mine.
For a while now, I have been rethinking this blogging thing. I still blog somewhat privately. There, I rant and wrangle. There, I work out ideas not ready for prime time and those who don’t well speak my lingo or ably fill in the words that I sometimes fail to speak as I discourse.
But, tonight, I saw that my friend, Kim, has finally conceded to some public display of her writing skills and that makes me so very happy. She is a fabulous writer…she who owes us all a book or two. Maybe such is finally beginning its journey out of the ground. I hope so.
So, in honor of her fabulous and soon to be famous words, I wish to repost something she conceded to write when I begged a while back. I called our exercise slam poetry, it’s just emotive poetry. I have been asked by another friend to help her 5th graders navigate the genre, so I’ve been reminiscing about our little foray into such last year. I cajoled some excellent examples from my literary gang; Kim’s was my favorite.
Here it is:
The only one I could be more excited about introducing than one of my young guns, is my first best friend, Kim. I know a few things in this life. One of them is that Kim loves me. Consider her introduction a Christmas gift from me.
Kim Perry December 11 at 11:42am
I decided to take your “grown folks challenge”
I love her face
Soft with age.
Still a powerhouse
Moving too quickly to hug most days
Queen of two castles, north and south
Still on her own
Angel of mercy
The designated driver for
Friends whose children
Have taken away their license
Big white Florida cars.
She is still so “young”
Confused and frustrated
By the mirror’s reflection
“That is not who I am”
But there is no denying
The great grandchildren
She lies awake at night
With three generations
After her to worry for
I wonder about me
Will I thrive at her age?
Will I embrace or disparage
(Or even worse
Be ungrateful for)
The years on my face?
Can I cheat
The menopausal destiny
(I so enjoy a peaceful sleep)
Can I escape
Of my family’s women
About the generations?
Hear me now.
to limit Mirror time.
Just a glance
to check for spinach and boogers
(lest I offend)
Yet I will peer deeply into
the eyes and souls of
To find myself and
on the generations
I rest in and claim
The Peace of God
I will pray for my kids
(and theirs and theirs)
I will leave the worrying
On sleepless nights
I will create
So that I will have more
In the morning
Than coffee and yawns
(Though, I do love coffee)
My girls have always wanted to ride horses, especially the little one, Molly. She has pictures all over her room of horses. They have ridden a few times, on vacations -Trent and I retired our desire to ride after riding up faces of sliding rock in Costa Rica. Were good on riding, thanks. We have some friends who have horses that the girls occasionally ride. But, riding lessons have not been in our budget. Until, this week. No, we didn’t win the lottery. “You gotta play to win” and all. But, this week, as Rob took the girls by to see the horses that board not far from our house, he ran into some riders…They struck up a conversation…Rob often takes time to just talk to people. He explained how the girls came by to see, occasionally bring an apple to the horses. Their trainer offered to let them ride, to give them lessons, for nearly nothing. Another woman there, Miriam, joined the conversation. She had been waiting on her young riders who board their horses at this barn as well. She met my girls. She took to them, they are friendly, like their Daddy. She offered the use of her horses, whenever they might want to ride.
I met Miriam yesterday. We went by to check on the horses, to see who might be around feeding, my girls are as interested in taking care of the horses as they are riding. Miriam’s oldest daughter was feeding their horses. Her three-year old was helping keep the horses to their own feed bucket. Her baby was sleeping in her car. She walked up and graciously greeted me, making the connection that I was Molly’s mother. She introduced me to her children who were feeding the horses and invited me to come and talk with her whenever the girls might come ride. Then she suggested that the girls, hers and mine, walk the horses to their pasture a bit down the road. She and I followed in our cars. As we approached the gate, Miriam offered me her phone number and told me to call her anytime my children wanted to come, gave me their riding/ feeding schedule, made me feel more welcome and wanted than I can remember in a long time. What a beautiful, gracious, loving woman she is. Her children are kind and generous and embracing. I feel very blessed to have come to know them.
Miriam and her daughters wear their hair in a scarf, they explained gently to my inquisitive youngest child, that they are muslim. I can see Molly, not much the theologian, shaking her head okay, and grabbing Simine’s hand, “Come on let’s go.” I can see Meg’s mind churning, but loving her friend Sima, from school who is there to ride as well, and chalking up her good fortune to have found a friend and a ride as from God.
Yesterday, on the way over to meet up with our new friends and the horses, Molly asked me. “Mama, what does being a Muslim mean?”
I stopped a minute before I answered and listened to the heart of our God… I told them that we had the same God, the God that came and found Abraham. That we call Him different names but He is the same. I told them that the father of their faith was Abraham’s first son. The father of the Jewish faith was Isaac. They are family. We, the Sullivan and our kin, who trace our ancestry to neither line, are just blessed to be included in such a heritage of God’s choosing and blessing. We are the one’s who are the outsiders, the ones graciously, lovingly not cast aside but taken in and treated as if we were indeed family.
The horse is a powerful symbol in Arab culture of strength and beauty. It symbolizes wealth and nobility, family line. For them to offer us access, unmerited, unproven access to their horses and lives was nothing but grace.
I told my girls that Muslims recognize Jesus as a man of God. They like their cousins, the Jews, who so many believe can do no wrong, do not recognize Him as very God. We, those adopted in, because of Jesus, do believe that anyone that generous, kind and self-sacrificing, must have been God Himself.
Because generous, kind and self-sacrificing pretty much sum up the heart of God, don’t they?