Surprise Visitor

I went out to the garden yesterday morning for frozen sage for breakfast omelets, and my neighbor walked up from her woodpile and asked for a favor.

Without thinking, I said yes. Sunny and sharply cold, the morning was already filled with the radiance of a bit of fresh, sparkling snow. The grass crunched beneath our boots.

My neighbor’s moving, and her pump organ needed interior storage for the winter. The old, exquisitely crafted organ was made in Brattleboro, in the Estey Factory, near where I worked in college at a nursing home.

My brother, who’s visiting, says, Where are you going to put an organ?

I was on my way to work, so I mention that maybe he and my daughters could manage that one particular detail. We’re laughing at this unexpected turn of events. Who imagined an organ would arrive today?

Not one of us play. When I come home from work, the girls tell me how the neighbors’ two friends carried the organ up the icy hill and into our house. My youngest lifts the keyboard cover, puts her feet on the pedals, and pulls the stops. My brother and I look at each other. The melody, even from her untrained hands, bellows deeply, soulful.

My brother says, Wow.

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And Grace….

When I attended Sunday School briefly as a child, I remember reading about the Resurrection in a paper booklet and studying an illustration of Christ standing in a white robe beside a boulder, his clean hands outstretched to a gape-mouthed Mary, his hair neatly brushed. What the heck was that about?

The presentation was like reading Macbeth on Disney character flash cards. How would this be possible? Why would it even be desirable?

Hallmark’s proliferation of bunnies and tulips to the contrary, this holiday is a mystery, bloody and ethereal within a span of days, a profoundly condensed version of human life.

More than anything else what I resent about that sanitized illustration is the belying that the crucifixion is also the story of nearly unbelievable persistence, of a man who endured physical torture, an extreme crisis of faith, and phenomenal resilience against the human tendency to flee when the going gets tough. Over and over, I’ve met that Joseph Campbell line “you must be wiling to give up the life you’ve planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” On this Easter morning, I’m reminded again that the price of grace is fiercely earned, and, yet, eternally possible.

…modern people have seen too many chemicals and are ready to go back to eating dirt.

– Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History

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library book reading…