It was mid-morning and the air was still cold even though the sun had melted the morning dew. She’d cleaned up the modest kitchen, put away the cast iron skillet and washed out the coffee pot. She made her way to the bedroom and pulled the cover up over the sheets. She gently brushed her hand along the fine stitching of her brightly colored quilt. Her Momma had made it, it was the last gift she was given before they loaded their old Chevrolet and headed out to the middle of nowhere. It was a strange place, this country life she’d suddenly fallen into. There was electricity in some parts but not others. There was one grocery store, but it was miles away, too far to walk; and her Pastor husband had the old car out paying visits to folks in the church.
She was restless.
A walk was just what she needed.
This was still a new place, she reasoned, so she wouldn’t stray too far from home. Oh, how her soul needed to get out underneath the great, big blue sky. She ached for family. A walk in nature sounded like what the doctor might order to soothe a hurting heart. She gathered her shawl and made sure to throw an extra piece of wood in the stove so their little cottage would be warm when she returned. She was past the mailbox and headed down the dirt road to no place in particular when she saw a small trail leading off into the sparse woods.
The little girl in her couldn’t resist the adventure.
She stepped toward the beaten path “Let’s see where you’re headed,” she said to the trees.
Absentmindedly, she began to hum the old hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. She was no singer, but she knew the Lord loved a joyful noise, at least that’s what her Momma always said. She had fond memories of standing next to her mother in church, singing at the top of her lungs while her Father looked out over the congregation from the podium. Of course, they were easy to find, her mother insisted they sit on the front row. She couldn’t remember a Sunday their little family wasn’t in church. She chuckled when she thought how many times Momma had threatened a spanking if she couldn’t be still and pay attention. She had no recollection of the spanking ever happening, but the idea of it kept her quiet as a mouse in more than one service.
She was startled out of her thoughts by a raccoon scurrying over the trail in front of her. She started to scream, but covered her mouth before she could. As much as this little creature intimidated her, she wanted to know and explore this new place. “Hello there little guy,” she tried to sound natural, “where are you headed in such a hurry?” Paying her no mind, he moved on and quickly out of sight.
“Well, it looks like I failed at my first attempt to make a friend,” she again spoke to the trees.
She had just decided to turn back and head home when she caught a glimpse of it. She squinted and put her hand over her brow to get a better look. She would tell you later she had no idea why she’d done this, since the trees blocked the brilliance of the sun. She leaned into her stare; it looked like she was trying to balance, but in reality she just wanted to see. She took a few steps in the direction of what she thought might be a little cabin and realized she was right. There, smack dab in the middle of the old country woods was a cabin nestled in deep.
“Hmmm,” again her curiosity got the better of her and she instinctively headed toward the old structure. It was then she noticed the wild daisies growing just beyond an old tree stump that looked like it could tell stories of a thousand years. She bent and picked several, reminiscing about the daisies that graced their table often as a little one; they were her Momma’s favorite.
She stood just out of sight for a bit, flowers firmly in hand, and finally decided she had to know who lived there. Her beloved husband was the new preacher in town and it made perfect sense for his wife to call on the neighbors.
At least, that’s what she told herself.
She didn’t exactly look like the preacher’s wife and that thought made her stop in her work clothes laden tracks. What might they think if she showed up like this? Floppy hat, old worn out shawl given to her by her Granny years ago, pants that looked like they were sewn from a potato sack and a shirt her husband had given her to wear when she did chores. None of it presentable and so she backed away from the front porch gently so not to be heard.
But, it was too late.
The front door flew open and before she could think another thought she was staring into the barrel of a rifle. “Oh Lord, help,” she whispered. In a big raspy voice belonging to a body that was much smaller, she heard the rifle owner say “What you want? I ain’t interested in buying nothing you sellin’” She stood there frozen in place, not one single word came to mind…not one.
The standoff lasted no more than a minute before the small person holding the large gun lowered it and looked her straight in the eyes. “I said, what you want? Ain’t no reason for you to be walkin’ out here on my prop’rty.”
She stammered and blushed, and nearly turned to run when words she hadn’t processed squeaked out of her mouth. “I’m the new preacher’s wife and I was out for a walk and I saw a raccoon and the trees are so beautiful and I love the hymn The Wondrous Cross. I wasn’t paying attention and then I was, and I saw your cabin and I wondered if anyone lived here and then I remembered my work clothes.”
The small person had lowered the gun to her waist and her mouth was hanging open as she tried to make sense of what was just said. “What’s your name?” She raised the gun a little higher rubbing against her ribs.
“Sadie,” she said in a shaky voice and a smile to match. “What’s yours?”
“Mz. Moses,” she said slowly with conviction.
“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Moses.”
Sadie thought she might faint. She had no idea what to do next so she did the most logical thing she could think of, she held out the flowers to the strange little lady with a big gun.
(To be continued…)
I love long walks.
Lately my family has been taking hikes in a state park not far from where we live. There’s so much to see and always more to explore. There’s something cathartic about being out in nature. It can soothe a broken heart, it can spark the imagination and make an amateur nature lover feel like a pro identifying birds and turtles.
Part of our hike takes us along the bank of a beautiful lake, and I can’t help but stop and take in its beauty as we trek around it. I love to see the ducks and geese paddling away from one side to the other. I’m always reminded how big and great our God is when I see all the little creatures he tends and the beauty he hides in places no human eye may ever see.
He loves to make life, and make it beautiful.
If you have a chance this week, get out and take a walk. Notice the caterpillars and butterflies, take it all in and then take time to give thanks. And, who knows, maybe you’ll meet your Ms. Moses.