“Creatures, I give you yourselves,” said the strong, happy voice of Aslan. “I give to you forever this land of Narnia. I give you the woods, the fruits, the rivers. I give you the stars and I give you myself.” from the Magician’s Nephew
I heard a man say once that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened. They could put this on my tombstone, but I wish they wouldn’t. I have apprehended trouble. I have taxed my life with forethought of grief, as the poet said. Yet I walk back to our little house in the dark of the early morning, in the unseasonable warmth under the lightning in the sky and know myself abundantly looked after. The clouds are covering the moon and it is too dark to see the ground, but I know it. I’ve walked this ground for twenty-eight years. I used to have a sandbox down this hill. The lights are on in Harestock. That’s where I came from and where I’m going. The Bantam rooster in the chicken tractor is warming up his chords for crowing. He is the lone rooster in the flock now and slower to get started, but once he does he will keep going ’til the light is settled.
Harestock is the home I have made with my husband. It is a one-room cottage, still unfinished in many ways, but then so is every place alive. By the lightning, you can see the samples of blue paint we have tested on the rough-sawn siding, and just the infancy of landscaping: a rose called Pilgrim trellised under a hickory tree, a newly planted dogwood tree, a stone-lined bed of Iris, a raised bed of strawberry plants, red buckeye trees under the oaks, and a cedar post supporting a wisteria vine. I know it is foolish to plant wisteria. It is more foolish still to steal wisteria, yet this is what we did. You had to get creative with dates in the year Twenty-twenty, ask anyone.
A year ago this April we got engaged on the hillside where we thought we would build a house some day. That was my dream as a child, but as I sit here now in the place we’ve made, our own child alive and kicking inside of me, that is not important anymore. It is possible for dreams to change without any sadness. By chance Ruth was gleaning in the field of Boaz, the verse goes and nothing was the same for her again. God uses that phrase in our lives more than we know. There is another verse that says, surely goodness and mercy will chase after me all the days of my life, and that chase after part He seems partial to, as well. If they wanted to put that one on my tombstone, it would be alright.
As I reach the house it starts to rain softy, but the tin roof makes it sound like the work it is and justifies just sitting down. There is already something being done. The rooster stops his crowing and leads his girls back up into the roost. He has a tin roof too and feels the same way I do. I have myself a breakfast of milk and cereal. My sister opened our little gas refrigerator the other day and said so I guess this is living on love. She didn’t know about the bag of boiled peanuts in the freezer.
The simple thing I have to say about marriage after seven months is that it is very very good. I know it can be hard too, as this is often spoken of. But I think all the talk about the sanctification in marriage is overkill. Sanctification is coming for you, child, regardless. I think the warning label tied to marriage comes from a reserve in love, in case it turns sour and hurts us even worse for having spoken so highly of it. Despite all the songs and stories, I was afraid to expect love and even now I am still often afraid to acknowledge it. But I am learning that if you don’t speak in this life you are wasting it.
In the Spring, if you go into the woods with an owl call and blow it, the male turkeys will gobble in response to the sound. They call this a shock call. And once one gobbler starts, many more will take it up, just like roosters. They are not afraid. They are loud because they are happy and the world feels good to them, and because they are a little crazy in love. They are loud because they were made to speak up.
In the span of history, I’m not sure these years will make the books. In view of the life of the earth, Harestock may fall to the ground and be no more than an odd high spot on a slope. And yet this full year and this little house I find so hard to keep clean, and all the funny moves of a human being inside of me, they are the God of the Universe chasing after us, surprising me with joy in return for all the trouble I’ve suspected, taxing my life with a burden of gratitude, so that in the end my tombstone would most truly say: she didn’t say thanks near enough.