March 3, 2008
Before Jake went to heaven, he took me to look at a piece of Texas land. “Mom, I think you and Dad would be happy out here.” I wondered in my mind, “you would be happy here, wouldn’t you Jake’? The land was pure Texas, out in the flat prairie where Jake and a best friend had spent many hours pretending to goose hunt. I think they solved life’s problems on those cold and wet winter mornings, watching the sun come up.
“We can’t afford this Jake, but keep looking, we will find something, God willing.”
Since those days, I have spent a number of nights, looking at the stars and thinking about heaven. I have spent time thinking about what it would mean to own a piece of land. What I ended up doing every time was just praying to God; “Do you want us old city folk to dream of a sanctuary where the stars are brighter, simply because city lights didn’t get in their way? I am grateful, God, for the home you gave us to raise our sons. This is enough, more than sufficient, but you let me know.”
We came upon this piece of land one Sunday, Mother, Bob and I. An odd shape this parcel. The dirt felt good under my foot. It was soft and grainy and smelled like soil that water could percolate through. It was very different from the Houston gumbo. The land rolled a bit, a rise revealing high bush blackberry bushes. Old water and post oaks, some draped in Spanish moss, dotted the open field. Bob looked at the pond and could see the past when a taut fishing line brought up a nice, big bass. A hawk, squawked and soared overhead. There had been hands who had tended this place, but not for a while. Gates still worked and fences still stood, but the old barn and the old house were full of things that spoke of memories past and the end of something. I stood on the rise and looked back and forward to the old farm house, but mostly I looked up. Lord, is this where you want us? Is this a place to feel peaceful? Is this a place to share that peace with whoever might need it? I thought about the neighbors to this little parcel of Texas, a Buddhist retreat, a wildlife refuges to meditate, should you be of that philosophy.
There is no way that I could have predicted where God has taken my life. No way. Most of the things have happened to me weren’t things I planned or hoped for, although there were a few I have feared. (Like any and every mother, I have always feared for my children’s health and safety.) I have prayed and sought God’s face throughout my life, sometimes walking closer to him than at others times, but always coming back to wanting to be beside Him.
So we stood on that little piece of Texas, at the “walk through” that is typical of buying and selling real estate and spoke with the woman who had begun her young adulthood there with her dad, she, now the heir to that acreage. I told her, hesitantly that I had been praying for her and her family. I thought about her as she and her children tidied up and closed out their business in Texas. She said back to me, “and I have been praying in this house this week. I have wondered who this would belong to.”
She stopped for a minute, tilted her hand down and cast her eyes towards me, “Do you think it would be strange if I ask you if we could pray together?” she said. She and I and my husband, and my mother linked hands and with whatever celestial beings might accompany such an event, looked down as we stood at the edge of an old 60 year old farmhouse, overlooking a meadow, in the bright sunshine, and we prayed for each other. The paper work wasn’t signed for another day, but the handing over happened then. As we drove away that day, all I could think of was how humbling the whole thing was. Who am I for God to pay so much attention to, to be in the detail of me and a woman whose heart mirrored mine in her family and her God, who live in other nations, would stand holding hands after only meeting each other? There was a sense of peace about this from the first day we walked that patch of land.
I don’t know what God will have us do with it. Right now, my heart hope that you come and sit at the old wood stove that will be in the barn, or you come and sit out under the stars with me, or maybe you will come and bring a small child who is special to you, I will teach them how to stick a seed into a patch of sandy, Texas soil. We’ll see. But you can trust this: God will do something beyond my imagination.
“O Lord, ”You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.”
“Peace and happiness are available in every moment.
Peace is every step. We shall walk hand in hand.
There are no political solutions to spiritual problems. Remember: If the Creator put it there, it is in the right place.
The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.”
An Indian Chief, 1876