A very tenacious, sensuous and most southern vine–or–the final page to the story

“…how sweetly smells the honeysuckle in the hush’d night…”
-Tennyson
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(wild honeysuckle on an old fence post / Julie Cook / 2014)

The humidity was so heavy and the air so thick, no one dared moved for fear of suffocating.
The beads of sweat, growing larger across her brow eventually grew too heavy–giving way as if a dam had burst, trickling rapidly down past her rounded cheek, even more quickly down her supple neck and sensuously disappearing down her silky blouse.

“What on earth is that oh so heavenly scent?
The question directed at no one in particular as the now shadowed figure stepped out onto the ancient front porch through that same torn screen porch door her daddy had always sworn he’d get around to fixing.
“Oh that’s mama’s honeysuckle vine on the trellis over by the side fence” she replied in a slow drawn-out honey coated drawl that he could suddenly not place.
Was it Savannah? Maybe Charleston? Better yet, maybe Natchez.

She could smell something other than the honeysuckle. “Nothing like a freshly showered man” she silently mused.
A mix of soap and saving cream hung heavily between them.
Despite the recent shower, the stiffly starched clean white oxford cloth shirt stuck to his back.
He handed her a glass.

The glass was one of her daddy’s Waterford crystal old fashioned glasses, the one from the makeshift bar in the front room he had christened his office away from the office. More like a big boy’s secret club house– as mama use to flippantly tell the kids about daddy’s time in “the office.”

The cold heavy glass, feeling instantly familiar and refreshing to the touch, was also full of her daddy’s favorite bourbon. When she was a little girl, asking for a sip of her daddy’s drinks, he’d simply whisper he was having a drink of a secret medicine. With the ice rapidly melting, she thankfully raised the sharp edged glass to her thin dry lips. One sip and she immediately felt the warm brown liquid erasing any remaining tension from the weight of the worries of the day. A silent “thank you Daddy for the medicine” wove itself into her thoughts.

As the cicadas gently hummed throughout the moonless night, he pulled over one of the other rockers asking if he could join her.
“Whenever did you have to ask to sit down” she quizzically quipped.
He couldn’t tell if she was playing or was actually annoyed.
It had been a dreadfully long day and he knew how heavy her heart had to be.

“Ever since you decided to spend the evening in the dark on this front porch” came his reply, attempting to sound more matter of fact rather than accusatory.

Suddenly he felt a warm hand reaching through the thick air landing gingerly upon his knee.
“It’s been a long day and a long life” she exhaled as she spoke in that breathless way she did when she fought from crying.
The years suddenly draining from her body as he placed his much cooler hand over hers.

Maybe it was the bourbon, maybe it was sitting on the terribly familiar porch, maybe it was the deeply southern humid evening–but whatever it was. . .she had finally sensed that she was going to be ok—-maybe it was because she had finally understood that she was just as stubborn, just as sensuous and just as tenacious as that damned ol honeysuckle vine her mama had planted 45 years ago, the one her daddy cussed every summer as he’d get stung by the visiting bees when she’d make him go prune the blasted thing.

You knew me when……and you still claim me…

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Psalm 139
O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me!
Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up;

thou discernest my thoughts from afar.
Thou searchest out my path and my lying down,

and art acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,

lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
Thou dost beset me behind and before,

and layest thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is high, I cannot attain it.
Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?

Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend to heaven, thou art there!

If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!
If I take the wings of the morning
 and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there thy hand shall lead me,

and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Let only darkness cover me,

and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to thee,
the night is bright as the day;
for darkness is as light with thee.
For thou didst form my inward parts,

thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful.
Wonderful are thy works!
Thou knowest me right well
my frame was not hidden from thee,
when I was being made in secret,

intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.
Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance;

in thy book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are thy thoughts, O God!

How vast is the sum of them
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.

When I awake, I am still with thee.
O that thou wouldst slay the wicked, O God,

and that men of blood would depart from me,
men who maliciously defy thee,

who lift themselves up against thee for evil!
Do I not hate them that hate thee, O Lord?

And do I not loathe them that rise up against thee?
I hate them with perfect hatred;

I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!

Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

Revised Standard Version

Psalm 139, this particular Psalm, is one of my favorite Psalms. I have several that I really like–and it usually depends on what’s going on in my life at the time. The Psalms address a wide range of human emotion—from lamentation to joy—always so aptly addressing some particular plight or triumph in my life….

But it is, I think, to the individualism of which Psalm 139 speaks, the intimate relationship between God and the individual….a one on one relationship…no one else, not a group, but the single individual….a direct connection just between me and God—as in He knew me when…He knew me before I came into being… that most clearly touches my heart.

Psalm 139 states that God knew me intimately at the time of my conception, even before that moment….He knows the words that will come out of my mouth before I even utter them…He knows wherever it is I go—it’s the I can run, but I cannot hide sort of knowledge….which is probably of the greatest comfort to me because it states that I am never ever lost. I may be lost to self…and that has truly been the case in this life of mine, but to Him, to God, never…I find that to be probably of the greatest comfort…

We, none of us, have such a relationship with any other human being that is on such a level—we may think we have such a bond, but given the limitations of being human—makes that quite impossible. He is the only one.
I may feel lonely but this Psalm reminds me that I am never alone..and believe me, it does well to be reminded of that from time to time. It is so easy often getting caught up in self, feeling isolated, as if I’m the only one by myself….but He is there.

Being adopted and not knowing anything about my beginnings on this planet, this Psalm brings me a peace—I was known and wanted by God at a time when I was not wanted by an earthly mother and father. He knew where I was all along and where it was I was going….even before I was placed in an adoption agency.

We may walk away…and many of us do–purposely or inadvertently, but He does not wander, never straying from our side despite our thinking we are so very far removed. What joy there is in that!
For some this sort of concept is rather difficult to wrap ones’ mind around—how can it be we wonder—but I have learned to simply rest in the knowledge—It is as if I may exhale and finally be at a Peace—and for which, I am forever grateful. May you find this same place of Peace.

Sweet and fair

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I plucked a honeysuckle where The hedge on high is quick with thorn, And climbing for the prize, was torn, And fouled my feet in quag-water; And by the thorns and by the wind The blossom that I took was thinn’d And yet I found it sweet and fair.
Christina G. Rossetti

Sweet and fair—that is what the sight and scent of honeysuckle truly is—the precious thoughts its image conjures up from the storage of my treasured memories of childhood, often long forgotten or buried….
To see, to smell, to taste of the honeysuckle, plucked from a lazy summer afternoon…school is out, the days are long, bare feet, under the veil of a bright sun, puffy white clouds set against and azure blue sky. Breathing deeply, almost gasping for the heavy perfumed air.
I am free and at great peace. At this moment, is there anything better? To gently tear off the base of the honeysuckle’s blossom with one’s front teeth and suck out the tiny drop of hidden sweet…is this what the bees are fighting me for…how many blossoms must they visit?
This sudden rush of a the past is instantly palpable just seeing this wealth of vine growing on an old fence post—an overgrown growth of vegetation to the landowner—sweet innocent childhood to me.