Tuesday, May 31, 2016

When There Are Three Days Till Graduation

Melted Butter
So, yeah, I'm at the coffee pot and there's this mess of butter just sprawled like a couch potato in the dish.

"Rough night?" I pour coffee grateful I don't feel the way that butter looks.

Sunshine melts through the kitchen window. Shadows lean as laid back as a Blues Band on a hot summer morning waiting for their gig. I lean against the counter. Just three more days till the high school graduation gig.  This mamma feels like a graduate herself.

In three days I'll watch my youngest of four walk.

At the fridge, I pull out the sandwich bread, lettuce, deli chicken sliced just so for sandwiches and I make a sack lunch sandwich for the thousandth time. This is the last sack lunch that will ride in a high school bound backpack.

I make the sandwich with the kind of care that borders on reverence. I remember the first sack lunch I made some twenty years ago; then the middle years when I'd line up twelve slices of bread for six sandwiches. My six-foot sons were eating two sandwiches each, and this kitchen was humming wide awake at 6:00 in the morning. Breakfast sizzled on the skillet, lunch sacks stood lined up on this counter like soldiers reporting for duty, and  roll was taken in the van.

Well, one sandwich. One Ziploc bag holds a handful of baby carrots. I slip a few slices of cucumber in there, too. One apple and a water bottle. I'm tempted to write a note on her napkin like I did all through elementary school, but she wouldn't appreciate the sentiment. So, no note.

Three days till graduation.

The band will play. The announcements and speeches will be made. The graduates will stand under the hot sun in dark blue gowns, and wait for their names to be called.

My girl is going to graduate, and this time I feel like I'm graduating, too. Only, I get to do it in the stands, dressed in something breezy. I don't need a cap and gown to graduate. Just one last sack lunch.

I wash an apple, dry it, and set it beside the water bottle in the sack. Then I fold the sack closed, and that's it.

I re-heat my coffee in the microwave where the butter folded last night; and I hold my own quiet ceremony here in my kitchen.

Sack Lunch

Sun and shadow drape in folds over the counter as if inviting me to put them on. I step into the light. It gowns me.

"Lord, it's more than enough to put Your light on." I run my hand over the counter and sweep bread crumbs into a little pile.

"Come to My throne," He announces my name.

I come, grateful to be draped in the gown of His righteousness; His light.

Right now, the stair banister is draped in the dark blue gown. The cap's been hung on the newel. And my gown? I'm wearing it. I'm wearing light. It covers me, because that's how God dresses those who wear the cap of salvation.

The robe goes with the cap.

Thing is, I've been wearing this robe and cap for so long that sometimes I forget I'm wearing them. I forget that the light of God isn't meant for me to hide behind, but to stand in. I know what it looks like to hide behind His light. I've done it-used His robe to skirt around questions such as, "How are you?" when I don't feel like answering. Lately, the Christianese answer is, "God is good!"

I've answered like that before, and mid-answer felt that holy pin-prick as if God has purposefully left a few pins in the fabric of light for just such times as when I use it to hide behind.

I've heard others answer the same way, too, when I've asked them how they're doing. "God is good!"

In cantankerous moments, I've felt like responding, "I know that, but I didn't ask who God is; I asked how you're doing."

So, there it is.

Cap and Gown
I purpose to choose, the next time I'm asked, one of two answers. I'm sure there are more answers to give, but I can only think of two.

There's the honest truth which may be more than they bargained for, or take too much time. And there's the, "Thank you for asking. We should get together and catch up." Personally, I'd like to try the second version. It opens the way for establishing fellowship beyond a once-in-a-while question that's asked between church services.

Honestly, sometimes the best standing-in-the-light kind of fellowship I've had has been in the aisles of the grocery store, or, as happened this morning, on the sidewalk outside.

We chatted about God's faithfulness.

We chatted about His sovereignty and amazing ways of colliding so many prayers from so many people into holy order and purpose,

We caught up with one another's lives. "My youngest is graduating in three days," said I.

"My youngest is getting married in three months," said she.

We laughed about the graduation ceremonies we've held for ourselves in our kitchens, packing up the last sack lunch.

Then we scheduled a morning next week to sip iced tea together out on the patio. Maybe there'll be sunlight and lazy-leaning shadows.

I catch the bread crumbs in my hand and toss them into the sink.

That's it. I walk.

And in three days my youngest graduates. She'll walk.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

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