But the unexpected rains of the last ten days have given most everything a sudden rush of growth. The rolled bales of hay are knee deep in the tough clover that has adorned itself with purple flowers. Even the grasses have grown.
The meadowlarks are still flashing each other, running through the air, swiftly and briefly marking the breeze with a c-curve in yellow.
It is like it is spring. But it is not. The first hints of yellow have appeared in some trees. The cottonwoods are usually the first I notice with this announcement. This year it is the locust. Which dropped its twisted pods a month early.
When we got home from Rapid, the yard was littered with the evidence of a violent storm --branches large and small, clumps of browning leaves strewn about.
Yesterday, I drove out to White Horse, my car packed with school supplies, gifts for the children here from St. Martin's in Charlotte, NC. The straight-edged rulers, calculators, compasses, binders, pencils and sharpeners, markers, crayons filled the backpacks, each with a prayer on a card attached to the pack.
'Look,' I said to one young man. 'You remember them. They've been coming here for years, right? They've been praying for you all this time, and you didn't even know it.'
His eyes never meet mine, but I can see the words hit him with surprise. He had a really rough year, this past year. In and out of the systems of law and all. But against all odds, he has kept up with school. And, God willing, and with more of his own hard work and support from a few adults --and the community of prayer far and wide, he will graduate this year.
A miracle in the rough.
I also drove up on the flats east of there, to another family. The youngest was out in front of the house, throwing a boulder into the driveway. Beside the log. Also in the driveway. I started to laugh. Who knows what he was designing... in the wide open prairie... in an odd stretch of gravel....
'Third grade,' he said, and sucked in some air and made his chest big. 'In the best school in the State,' he said, exhaling like some old man with a pipe. He stood, one leg in front of the other, his hand on a hip, hair standing straight out. So old. So young. I pointed to the box of packs I had created for the kindergarten through third grade crowd. He picked up a bright pink one that had a princess or two on it. 'I like this one,' he said.
His mother sighed his name and laughed. 'Pink is a strong color,' I said. 'Have you seen that movie?' I pointed at the princesses. He nodded. 'I really like it.'
I love this kid. He is one of those kids that says really holy things as though they are as plain as the alphabet song. And, he is still undifferentiated in holy ways when most kids have drawn strong lines of definition around this or that. Unembarrassed to throw boulders and move logs and love a princess movie. Since the first grade, he has always volunteered to read in church. Perhaps this year he will lead in the prayers. (He is the one that always claps his hands and leaps in joy at the end of the Eucharistic prayer... full throttle.)
'Why don't you try some of those packs over there,' I said, pointing to the box filled with the high school boy packs. He put the princess pack down and moved to the bright orange and blue pack. I remember I put pointed and sharp things in the high school packs, and whispered to his mother that perhaps she should review the innards of the pack because he probably would, you know... with sharp or pointed things.... And she nodded and laughed, as filled with wonder and joy at this child as I was.
On my way back down the hill in to the river valley, the sun is at the horizon. I remind myself to watch for the animals who will run or crowd the road as the day shifts to night. I am suddenly filled with a song I do not yet know, that comes to me in the tilted light. Ta ta da la, la la tata da la to the meadowlark. The deer and its fawn appear by the thrust of wild flowers. Ma la ta da da ri so ma la da.
The grass is sheathed with gold. Mother earth moves in a gentle undulating dance, lifting her skirt to her ankles by the creek. That bird, on the ragged half-undone fence, tilts his red crown. The magpie emerges in a flight she only half owns, dragging her tail. The porcupine lumbers and crouches all pin cushion-like. The prairie dogs sing in that high birdy chirp.
And I pray. For the children. For the good people of St. Martin's in that far-away place. For the man who has held my heart for so long. For the good people who have survived here, against all odds. For my little dog who has backed away from the abyss --just a little-- with a boiled chicken breast in his teeth.
This morning (Canticle: A Song of the Spirit, Revelation 22:12-17)
“Behold, I am coming soon,” says the Lord,
“and bringing my reward with me, *
to give to everyone according to their deeds.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, *
the beginning and the end.”
Blessed are those who do God’s commandments,
that they may have the right to the tree of life, *
and may enter the city through the gates.
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to you, *
with this testimony for all the churches.
“I am the root and the offspring of David, *
I am the bright morning star.”
“Come!” say the Spirit and the Bride; *
“Come!” let each hearer reply!
Come forward, you who are thirsty, *
let those who desire take the water of life as a gift.
I am off to Pierre --the Diocesan offices have moved, to be more central and accessible.
And I am filled with gratitude. And great joy.