It had been 3 years since I had been “home”. There are two worlds in which I exist, 9,000 miles apart. One is an old skin, marked by the memories of time, family, friends, church, school, love… One is a fresh graft holding promise, painfully stretching me, creating new networks of sensory memories I touch with my husband, children, work and God. I live in one or the other, but also very much in between.
As I walk around “home” gazing at objects familiar yet forgotten – old running shorts, wedding photos, dusty plaques and memos to myself from 2002 tacked on the bulletin board, my hands reach for an old children’s Bible. It belonged to a dear friend who had given it to my firstborn as a keepsake. The pages and the pictures are slightly yellowed, but the stories she read as a child are familiar to me.
I had recently spoken to this friend, aptly named Grace. I talk to her once every few years when work opens a window and distance is bridged by a clear phone line. She doesn’t do e-mail. We had done phone tag until it wasn’t funny anymore. Time was running short as it would be another 2 years until the opportunity to talk presented itself once more. I reached her once and she had to cut it short. I only managed to ask “How are you?” She said, “Not good. I need to go. It’s not a good time to talk. I’ll call you back.”
Now I was leaving in just a day or too. Finally, “How are you Grace?”
“Oh, Much better than when I talked to you last. I felt like I needed to throw something then. My husband left me in January. I’m in the middle of selling the apartment and finding one I can afford.”
“What? What happened?”
“Oh, he got bored with me, bored with his company, bored with God apparently and he’s doing his own thing. But I’m doing better than I was.”
Thirty minutes of conversation to highlight 8 months of agony. I flipped through the Bible and out dropped a sprig of dried wildflowers. I remember I had put them in years ago, when my daughter was a baby. I wanted to put it someplace safe as a memento of something beautiful – to mark a special memory and a fleeting moment in time.
“Grace, how are you doing with God?”
“You know, it’s funny. Before, my husband didn’t want to get out of bed to go to church and so I’d miss it too. Now, I am up and go to the early service and stay all day.”
“Are you bitter, Grace?”
“No, I have told him I will take him back if he wants, but he filed for divorce and it becomes final in December.”
I gently pick up the flowers… collected when they were vivid and fragrant, yet now they were somehow even more beautiful, tried, pressed with time and surrounded by His Word. I surrender home. I pray for Grace.
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