My teenage son gestures towards his jacket, asks me how to clean out pockets and I realize he’s never had to turn anything completely inside-out before, never had to take something that was designed to serve a good and useful purpose and pull at it, tug until it’s wholly reversed from its original fashioning so that every lost oddment, every needless irritant is set loose and finally it’s empty. It’s not a pocket anymore; it can’t hold anything but the buzzing light from the kitchen and these softly flanneled regrets.
If God is my key witness, and ready to testify on my behalf while still fully aware of the charges against me, yet hoping I am innocent of them all, or most, or surely some, or certainly the worst; If God is my key witness, then it seems strange when Next witness! is called and my chief counsel goes searching, that he is nowhere to be found and when asked, a guard admits he saw him leaving when the vesper bells began at St. Mary’s, saying something about waiting as long as he could, and was sure I would do just fine on my own, but if I should lose, he would send comforters who will stand in the cold at midnight with placards and crepe-draped crosses to cry out at the gates, Shame, Shame!
Are you really? Underneath the snows of winter, do you blossom on and on? Do the pocket gophers crave you, tunneling beneath that blanket, pray to enter your secret chambers, rest inside your open gates?
I see your flowering, fruiting clusters, hanging on into October, leaning into the open path, making way, ushering whatever is holy into the presence of things that stay.
I often arrive at a boundary that leaves me at the gate at a time to fish or cut bait or just wait at the border of this or that for better or worse perform or rehearse begin again or end— on my mark to there, at the finish from where.
And that’s when I need some now-or-never word, as when Jesus sat with the woman at the well waiting for a snarl of men to stone her, and reach out to her writing something in the sand for her for them and wrote again, then spoke his boundary-breaking words piercing to the bone that would kill their will and let them all go home.