I listen to a news briefing as I walk Edgewood, warm winds tossing the trees. I hear there are bodies being flung from planes. I don’t remember seeing the little American flag on Rivara’s mailbox before.
Old Highway 50 is hot and quiet, and there are black-eyed Susans and zinnias growing around that tin-roofed house I love. I walked one evening last week and the gardener saw me and waved for the first time. He looked how I’d hoped he would: t-shirt tucked into cargo shorts, ballcap, a grey beard like an Amish man’s.
I’ve been in the kitchen this week, blanching tomatoes for salsa and checking the brine on my refrigerator pickles. I’ve run out of zucchini but am still baking bread; some for us, some for Elaina, some for Mrs. Brenda. We walked to her doorstep last night— Elsie, Huddy, Bennett, and I. Molly the Goldendoodle met us in the street and bounded around. Elsie held the bread. Mrs. Brenda hadn’t seen the kids in a long time, she said.
Bennett used his stuffed sloth’s hand to wave bye, and I told them they did well, weren’t rude or shy, then walked them back down the street, pointing at Mrs. Brenda’s yard, telling them how Christophe used to live here and come over to climb our trees. All three looked at me and smiled.
Now I sit, trying to find words at my desk, AC blowing on my knees, light in the curtains, laundry spilling off the bed onto the floor. Outside, it thunders. The rumors have turned into real, distant, hellish war.
What can I possibly say?
And then I think of Samwise on the dark stairs of Mordor, sitting like a child and singing about his home – the trees and finches, flowers and stars. The Shire reminded him he’d been a gardener, and would be one again.
It feels weird to pickle cucumbers while the world burns. But Isaiah reminds me that on the other side of war is home, when we’ll trade our guns for garden tools. We won’t run from fire but take walks in the warmth of Jesus’ presence.
Home is where I practice this, and it’s also where I pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, come.”
“They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
“O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the LORD.”
~ Isaiah 2:4-5