We took the table down.
Certain Man suddenly began pulling it apart, and taking out the many boards. I watched as he took it all the way down to the usual single board, and then he asked about the tablecloth. I fetched the flannel backed padding from the study where I had carelessly folded it and laid it haphazardly on a box that held stuff that needed sorting. While he spread it out, I went and searched out a tablecloth for the suddenly smaller dimensions. We smoothed it down, and it looked crisp and non-themed. I was working at things in the kitchen, so I returned to my chores there, and saw that he brought the two chairs back to the family room that get relegated to the living room when we open the table. He put the round berry tea light holder over the small glass manger scene that fits so perfectly on the inside of the ring, and set the two Home Interior wooden sconce holders with votive cups on either end. And then he lit the candles. I watched with a sense of gratefulness, as he carefully lit six tea lights and two votive candles. I looked over at them twinkling in the shadows, and knew he was feeling like things were getting back to normal. It was comforting and reassuring.
“It’ s kinda nice to have things back in place, isn’t it?” I ventured bravely. He’s been a little unpredictable these last couple days (weeks or months would be more like it). I think he’s grieving, though he isn’t really aware of it, and I thought he was getting sick. A bad sore throat, and general weariness. He was scheduled to preach last Sunday and when the snow stopped it, he decided to keep the sermon for this Sunday, even though it had a Christmas theme. He particularly liked this sermon, though preaching is hard for him. He never feels good on the Saturday before he’s to bring the message, and I suspect all the things out of kilter around here haven’t helped any.
“It sure is!” He responds with feeling. “It is high time!” I think again about the days that are passed, and wonder what is really in his heart.
The table has been big for a long, long time. It sat in our dining/family room for many days with the extra boards in it, and some days, it was pulled out the full thirteen feet. The people we love gather around it,and there is pleasant conversation, food of the Season and peace. This year, since putting up the Thankful wall, we’ve had Early Christmas, Youngest Son’s house church group, the Yoder cousins to visit when we had revivals with a relative from Illinois. We had the office open house, we had cookie baking day, we had Christmas Eve, we had New Years Eve, (and probably some I forget) and every time the table got pulled open and most of the time, stretched its full length. Sometimes I didn’t take it down because of how soon the next event was taking place. The table is a wonderful thing for big events, but it seems to hamper family togetherness in every day living. I was glad to see it come down for that reason. And I suspect that Certain Man was tired of walking around it to his favorite chair. I’m also glad because, with all the wonderful times we’ve had with friends and family this season, I have MISSED my girlie so much. I hate it that I still cry at least once every day. I was going to be wise and cheery and upbeat and proud and supportive and optimistic and an inspiration to my fellow man and patient and thoughtful and GODLY (Don’t forget GODLY) about it all. But I’m not. I am struggling with a sadness that I can’t seem to shake and I realized that the relief I felt when the table came down was a pretty good indication that I have some “soul work” to do.
And so, today, I am sorta’ digging out. Packing a box for my girlie, trying to do laundry, trying to get the weekend and some of the season mess straightened up, trying to set some goals for the next weeks. And remembering that every passing day is one day closer HOME, not only for my girlie to be back with us again, but for us to be HOME to Heaven.
That means I cannot afford to neglect what is of eternal value. I cannot allow distractions to take root in my thoughts and keep me from concentrating on what is good. I cannot allow what feels like a justifiable sadness to color all of life with its malevolent darkness. There is too much at stake.
What does God’s word say about this? Something about “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” and “Oil of Joy for mourning?”
It would appear that the best solution for this situation is to begin to “Get dressed!”
Garment of praise, would you clothe me in joy?