Sadie knocked on the door with polite precision. She was so excited for today. Abe was comfortable with her visits to Ms. Moses’s all alone since she’d invited them in for tea a while back. Sadie had been as faithful as the rising and setting of the sun since. Every week she’d show up, knock on the door, hand Hazel flowers she’d picked along the way and a loaf of her not so famous homemade bread. Then she’d make her way to the table. No one made sun steeped tea like Ms. Moses, sweetened to perfection with golden honey. They’d cut the bread and talk of scriptures and how the Lord was teaching them new things. Of course, Sadie did most of the talking, but she didn’t mind. Each week Ms. Moses opened up a little more and Sadie could feel a break through slowly happening.
Today was most exciting because she was going to learn to crochet. She couldn’t believe her ears when Ms. Moses offered to teach her. Sadie nearly burst with excitement and waited all day for Abe to get home to tell him about it. “I’ll need a crochet hook,” she’d told Abe. Money was tight but the church had finally been able to pay a small wage so the sale of her eggs wasn’t the only money in the house. “I have no idea how to pick one, are there different sizes?” she’d said to him. His answer was a blank stare and she knew right then she’d have to continue this talk with the clerk at the mercantile. Surely he could tell her what to get.
But that was all old news, because the day had finally arrived and Sadie was sipping tea with her “new” friend, Hazel. That was another exciting milestone in this friendship adventure. Ms. Moses told Sadie her name was “Hazel and you should call me by it.” It was still a struggle to NOT say Mrs. Moses, but Sadie was trying her best.
The walk to Hazel’s little cabin in the woods was glorious. The sun was shining in full glory and the wind was blowing the tops of the trees. The leaves blew back and forth and it seemed to Sadie they were waving hands of praise to the Maker. It felt like the whole world was smiling on her as she reached down and rubbed her round belly. Her suspicions had been proven true: a new little Henderson would be joining them around Christmas. She secretly hoped for a December 25th baby, a perfect gift from God above. All of it was more than her heart could contain and she, while swinging her worn picnic basket full of treasures, sang enthusiastically for the forest creatures to hear
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word
What more can He say than to you He hath said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled”
How often she had fled to the Lord in the early days of their ministry. No electricity, no food, no friends, they were tough days. But, she and Abe recollected often how the Lord had given them so much, more than they deserved. She sang the verse again, this time a little louder and she imagined the wind carrying the words right up to heaven, landing softly at the feet of Jesus.
Sadie sipped on her tea and ate the bread a little quicker than her Momma would’ve liked. “Be ladylike, Sadie.” She could hear her mother’s voice as plain as day in her mind. Oh how she missed her. As soon as Sadie felt it was polite, she reached down and put the basket she’d packed with yarn and accessories on the table. She was nearly giddy at the idea of making a blanket for the sweet little one joining them soon. Ms. Moses took the subtle hint and began clearing the saucers and tea cups. She motioned for Sadie to follow her from the small kitchen into the living room where two old rockers sat in front of the fireplace. The fireplace was clean as a whistle since no fire was needed in the heat of summer, but Ms. Moses sat by it every night none the less.
Sadie gathered her things, filling both arms, and headed to the rocker. The moment she was seated she felt the atmosphere in the room change. Hazel looked at her, tears streaming down her weathered cheeks. “Oh, Mrs. Mos.. Hazel, what’s wrong?” Sadie started to rise and Ms. Moses immediately waved her hand to stay seated. “Nothin’s wrong, or maybe everythin’ is wrong. I don’t know. It’s just the first time a livin’ soul has sat in that rocker in so long. It was Henry’s.” “I can move, we can sit at the kitchen table,” Sadie stammered with wide empathetic eyes and began to heave her heavy abdomen forward. “No ma’am, we’s sittin’ right here. Henry would want us to.” Ms. Moses reached for the hankie hanging from her apron pocket and wiped her tears. She gave her a nose a good blowing; Sadie would later tell Abe, through bittersweet tears, it sounded like a goose honking.
Sadie sat back in the rocker, feeling the heaviness of the moment and not knowing what to do about it. She bowed her head gently, as not to be too obvious, and prayed in her heart Lord, I have no idea what it feels like to lose the man of my dreams, but I know what loss feels like. Would you please give me words and a heart of love as Mrs. Moses feels the freshness of this enormous loss? I trust, you, Father.
Ms. Moses began to explain the “magic” of crocheting, and Sadie drank her words like cool water on a hot summer day. She was amazed at how patient and kind Hazel was as she spoke, so unlike their first encounter. And, quite frankly, unlike many of the encounters after that. It affirmed in Sadie’s heart that hurting people don’t always have the strength to do anything but survive and she resolved to love Hazel even more unconditionally. Something beautiful was happening in that little mountain cabin. A relationship was being born and it wasn’t because either of them meant for it to happen. Sadie had followed the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit and now, here they were, the teacher and student. You could argue which one was the teacher and which one was the student, the roles slipped back and forth depending on the day.
This day, Ms. Moses was the teacher and she sent Sadie home with an assignment to practice working with the crochet hook.
And Sadie did.
Unfortunately, it didn’t go well and what should have been several nice rows of stitching was a mess and not even Hazel could tell where Sadie had gone wrong. So much like life. We try so hard and still we make a mess, Sadie thought the next week as she was walking home on what had become her favorite trail. Her grin grew even wider when she felt her little one squirm. She rubbed the top of her belly as she walked, “You are so loved, my sweet tiny wonder. I can’t wait to hold you in my arms and tell you stories of Jesus.” Overhead the birds were chirping a beautiful melody, and in that precise moment Sadie realized, there was nothing in the whole world that could make her any happier.
Ms. Moses stood on the porch until Sadie was long out of sight. She wiped unexpected tears as she thought how life had not gone as planned. But, after many years living, this one thing she knew, you have to trust. Even when everything around you falls apart and despair chokes your soul. If you muster what little strength you have and trust, someday the hurt won’t be so unbearable. The Lord will send an unexpected miracle into your life. “You’d like this one, Henry, she doesn’t believe in givin’ up.” She spoke into the silence and reached for the hankie hanging from her apron pocket.
“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”