Monday, August 23, 2010

When the Father Brings Flowers

Regular readers of these Pilgrim Scribblings know how much I appreciate the writing of fellow scribe (do you call a lady..."fellow"?) Ann Voskamp and her Holy Experience blog.  Today's post grabbed me and Ann's story kept my attention right to the end.

Ann writes:

"When love slips in from behind unannounced, it arrests, and who can do anything but just surrender to the happy grace?

Yet what could have prepared me, really?

Prepared me for what I find out the back kitchen window on an August afternoon all tired and greying with clouds... I mean, some kid did yell it as he rocked the front porch swing like a bronco, “Grandpa Morton’s here!”

But that didn’t warn me much, ‘cept to clean away a stack of books from the counter, gather up the tomatoes lining the sill. I pile them, summer’s largest berries, and I know how Dad likes his tomatoes.

With salt and pepper and a slice of cheese on thick bread and a dark glass of Welchel’s grape juice frothing. Maybe I could pick him quick a basket of Beefmaster ’s, red juice suns, from the kitchen garden? Right after I wipe the counters, pick up the shoes strewn in the mudroom, and how exactly do these the errant pieces of Stratego keep migrating, an army into kitchen territory?

Dad did just happen to mention when he called last week — and I do just happen to remember right now — that he prides himself on his house where guests are scared to misplace anything. I scoop up a dropped sock, a broken purple crayon, a shriveled up apple core. I look out the back window.

Where have the kids got him at now? Have I still got time to get a way a mess of laundry?

And out the window I see him right there. On the back stoop in his Wranglers, the tongues of his work boots all flopping open, and Malakai talking his ear off all aminated with his arms circling gestures nearly as big as his smile and Shalom tugging on his arm and attention and Dad’s nodding and grinning under his tattered farm cap. I stand fixed. The wonder making me memorize. I can't quite believe this... just like this.

Crumbly floor? Laundry stacks? Shoe piles? I don’t remember. I whisper it, barely audible, to me, to the moment, to the Farmer somewhere in the study paying bills.

“I never could have imagined this.”

I open the back door and he gives me glads in a recycled Cheez Whiz jar.

"Oh Dad." He's got oil stains on his work shirt.

I swallow hard. He shrugs his shoulders. He was just driving by. Had equipment to pick up.

I’ll happen to remember this forever. How you never know when love might come knocking unannounced at your door. How you never know who loves. How you mustn't ever stop believing. How he even blushed, boyish, shuffling in boots.

I pick him a basket of tomatoes from the garden, ruby love jewels, and he pulls out one or two redroot pigweed as tall as his waist and he tells me I sure do grow some pretty exotic vegetables out here. And I remember not to be so sensitive, not so serious, and I laugh.

He tells me he saw better bouquets of glads at the end of other Mennonite lanes on his way home and he felt sorta bad, but this Cheez Whiz one was more in his price range anyways, and I have to laugh because why let anything snatch away love? His eyes glint.

I hand him his tomato basket. He looks in my eyes. I nod. He nods. We exchange more than gladioli and tomatoes and I’m had by the love unexpected, the hope still strong, the tender surprises only God can imagine.

But maybe none of this requires imagining, only the opening of eyes.

To all these moments... when the Father brings flowers."

Note:  Photo by Ann Voskamp.  Good photographer too!


  1. So true Padre...we often don't see the love someone has as we whip by our own lives...on our own path. How Blessed we are to stop and reflect on those who bring us a we we ask for yet one we never see. So true are friends that God puts in our path often just in and then out of our lives as He knew we needed. (_)]

  2. My comment from tuesday morning is still not posted...this being Friday. Basically I just wanted to say that we oftem miss gifts God gives us since the packaging is not always the same or expected. He knows exactly what we need and often delivers before we even know it. What a great and caring God we have. We we leave these gifts not fully opened blind to what has been offered, we rob ourselves. As often and as quickly the gift was given it can disappear. God has a planned time limited and we may think we are on our own but do not see what has been given in love. Just as God gives us Friends who come in and out of our lives, it is because God knew what we needed before we did. The season of a friend may only be a short time but what was shared will last nearly forever.

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