Saturday, December 29, 2012


One of the most beautiful things Emmett taught me was how to build a fire, even with wet wood.  The way you arrange the wood, prepare the kindling, even place the lit match and nurse it just so when it begins to burn.  I loved watching him build fires when we went camping because he made it an art form, and though the patience required nearly drove me crazy I became so good at building them that he often told me I was better than him (though I suspect he was just trying to curry favor).  Whenever we had fires at the house, he would sit up and watch them burn out long after I had gone to bed, always the rule-following boy scout, waiting for the embers to be cold to make sure we were all safe. 

So as I stay up waiting for he fire to go out tonight, I keep listening to his song on repeat:

          Kate York, Lay Down Your Sorrows

          Lay down your sorrows so troubled of heart
          come to the tree on the hill as you are
          Lay down your burdens that you've called friends
          watch as it blooms into life again

          Here is the ending and here it begins
          here at the river that washes your sins.
          Cast all your shame, all your sorrows and guilt
          here on this altar that love has built.

          There is no burden too heavy for him
          There is no battle scar he cannot mend.
          Love is a man well acquainted with grief,
          He longs to show you the way to peace.

          Fathers and mothers, O daughters and sons,
          Mercy is waiting with wide open arms.
          Heaven's a feast and the table is set.
          Run with abandon and never look back.

I love the rhythm of this song.  It makes me feel like a little girl dancing.  Not that I actually danced in my living room.  Who would do something so silly....  Sheesh.  When Quinn dances, which he still does frequently and with great abandon, it is a glorious sight to behold.  His awkward hips and flailing arms interspersed with short, jerky hops delight my heart, even as I'm silently praying he doesn't fall on his face again because, let's face it, the poor guy inherited my coordination.

Someone responded to one of my last few posts, commenting on my grief journey, and I was a little surprised.  There is so much darkness and struggle in my life, and grief - of a sort, yet I haven't felt particularly like I've been grieving.  Rather, I feel like grief over Emmett was just the first step into a new dimension of my journey, a new awareness of God at work.  It's funny to be pigeon-holed as "the widow," and it sometimes catches me off guard when I get the impression that people expect me to be carrying some kind of weight ready to dump on the next unsuspecting victim.  Yet I can honestly say that precisely because of the intensity of the battle, I've never felt this light.

Perhaps it is because I've given up trying to arrange my life just so, trying to get the stack just right.  As I watch the fire die tonight, I'm praying for God to arrange the pieces of my life just so, to stack each gnarled, soaked, twisted branch into a glorious heap ready to catch on fire.  And that's not a place of grief.  It's a place of reality, not a blind superficiality, but a tenuous hope.  Not ignorant of suffering, but not driven to despair.  I've found it to be part battlefield and part ballroom.  It's a curiously secure yet fragile place where joy is forged from sorrow and peace is the hard won prize for long-suffering.  


  1. oh i'm loving this song. and your words. thanks for living life, friend.

  2. You may not remember me, Wendy, but you were my RA in college. You played Scrabble with me that first lonely night in Lupton Hall. Thanks, by the way. But thanks even more for what you have written here. My husband, John, lost his brother (at 33 years old) a few years ago to lung cancer, and I often live in fear that the same fate awaits my husband. Thank you for reminding me of the peace that comes in letting go, in surrendering to the fact that I am not in control, never was, and never will be. I Pray for you often.