The agreement

(the ole Methodist Church in Cades Cove, The Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Let us just agree to disagree”

How many times have you heard that?

How many times a day have you heard such during the course of the past couple of years?

The heated debates…

The “he said, she said”
The “yes they did, no they didn’t”
…all of which we’ve gotten so good at in this country…
The liberal verses the conservative
The democrat verses the republican
The pro verses the con
The Christian verses the Muslim
The Jew verses the Palestinian
The Atheist verses the Believer
The homosexual verses the heterosexual
The young verses the old
The male verses the female..
On and on ad infinitum it goes…
As the polarization grows ever deeper and wider…
and yet we ask…what good has come?
Has there been resolve, peaceful discourse, common ground, compromise, agreement…?

Far from it…

Hatred, disagreement, resentment, anger, ill will, division…it grows and multiplies daily to a dangerous and explosive level.
The sides have been chosen and the battles are looming….

So before we all finally explode, perhaps it might behoove us to take a look at what exactly this idea of agreement is all about….

An agreement: harmony of opinion, action, or character–
a contract duly executed and legally binding

An agreement can also fall under the header of a covenant…as in…

A covenant: a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action….or
A covenant is a sacred agreement between God and a person or group of people. God sets specific conditions, and He promises to bless us as we obey those conditions. When we choose not to keep covenants, we cannot receive the blessings, and in some instances we suffer a penalty as a consequence of our disobedience.

Now what exactly happens when, let’s say, an agreement or covenant is broken?

There is most certainly legal recourse, consequence or reparation on the part of second party (the breakee) to the initial party of the first party issuing the agreement or covenant… perhaps even a monetary or judicial penalty…

Seems as if the breaking of agreements, aka covenants, has been an age old problem and just might be linked in part, if not totally, to our current state of polarizing division….

Let us hear the words of The One who issued the original agreement, aka covenant:

The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction;
he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.
Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.

If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor will any of your livestock be without young. The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you. You must destroy all the peoples the Lord your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.
Deuteronomy 7:7-17

All a bit harsh sounding?
Difficult to read?
A bunch of ancient gobbledygook?
Words spoken by a malevolent tyrannical deity?
Why would anyone want to believe in a deity who sounds shall we say…harsh, hard and exacting?
It is just an agreement, or if you insist a covenant, after all…wait… did we sign anything!?

Oh I don’t know…..
It just seem as if things have been spiraling downward ever since the day we, the 2nd party of the agreement, chose to ignore what the initial issuing party of the agreement, God, had originally offered…


“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
― Rose Kennedy

“Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow has not yet come.
We have only today.
Let us begin.”

Mother Teresa

(the old Methodist cemetery in “the Cove” / Cades Cove, The Great Smokey Mountains, TN/ Julie Cook / 2015)

Lying in the darkness at 3 AM, staring upward at a ceiling I know is there, I wonder if she is slightly smiling, amused by the odd twist in irony…me on the couch.

Yet not her couch.

Her couch is long gone, replaced by a minimalist camelback, plain jane, off-white couch too short even for my once 5’4.5″yet sadly now 5’3″ frame.

He has the heat cranked up to 76.
I can barely breathe.

How many times had she lain in this same spot, albeit on the different couch, her couch, asleep waiting on my return from another date.

How long ago was that…
42 years give or take…?
My thoughts race to the AC…
Do I dare get up and cut off his heat?
He’s so cold natured now you know…just like my grandmother was…

I don’t remember the floor creaking 40 years ago when I’d slip down the hall to turn the thermostat down on those sweltering summer nights…he didn’t believe in paying for air conditioning—now it’s just that he stays cold, even in the summer.

The owner of the camelback sofa is in the hospital.

Earlier he told me that he’s been here before—a situation of being alone…home alone with a wife in a hospital.
Silently he sits lost in his thoughts.
He’s always needed a keeper or perhaps prisoner of his own insecurities and paranoias.
But this time is different, this one will be coming home.

Hours later, I lay wrapped in the dark heat listening to sounds no longer familiar.
The house so recognizable, it should fit like a favorite sweater, yet it is now so vastly different…it no longer slips on effortlessly with comfort and ease…
as it and I are both victims of time.

Time has truly been unkind.

When I lived in this house, Time relished taunting all occupants.
There were days, months, weeks, years when it simply stopped, standing still.
As the house worked in tandem with Time to hold us all hostage.

One of us ran out of Time long before Time should have departed.
Later, another of our small number took it upon himself to cheat Time, rushing
the process by his own hand.
Still another decided he wanted to double Time
as I simply stepped out into my own Time.

As I find myself staring blankly at the ceiling lost in the night, days quickly shorten as Time has now grown terribly late.
Minds have slipped away as all bodies have followed suit.
Roles mysteriously reversed are hopelessly fought tooth and nail.
And I am oddly expendable yet desperately needed.

There are day’s I think I hear her sardonic “better you than me”
trailing off in the shadows…
I ponder the selfish reasoning as I know there are no quick or easy answers.
This is not how I would have written the ending to this story.
I would not be on this camelback sofa…
as there never would have been a camelback sofa.

Time never would have run out as quickly as it had
nor slowed to a crawl when it finally expired.
Lives would have remained intact
and I wouldn’t be staring at a ceiling that I can’t see,
lost in the dark, burning up on a strange camelback sofa at 3AM
in a house I no longer know.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18