beasts of burden, greased watermelons and a wallowing pig

“A spiritual Christian should welcome any burden which
the Lord brings his way.”

Watchman Nee

mules
(a mini heard of donkeys per the world wide web)

The other day my aunt told me that there was a lady at her
church who is often heard to say that…
whereas she knows that God does not give us more than we can carry (or bear),
she just wished that He would not keep confusing her with a mule…

Mule, donkey…one half dozen or the other….
beast of burden none the less…

And might I add that I am feeling every ounce of the burden for which I am currently
bearing and wearing…
and then some….

Have you ever tried picking up a greased watermelon?

When I was a little girl, our neighborhood pool, as part of their fourth of July celebrations,
would grease a large watermelon then drop it into the deep end of the pool…
allowing it to bob up and down.
Next a whistle would blow and all the kids would dive into the pool.
swimming as fast as they could to the deep end,
as everyone would try their best to grab the watermelon…
desperately treading water while attempting to be the first one to shove the watermelon
up out of the pool.

It’s a wonder we didn’t all drown.

And no, I never could get a hold of the greased melon,
let alone push it out of the pool.

That long forgotten memory came racing back to the forefront of thought today
when dad decided he could no longer stand while the caregiver was trying
to get him showered off.

He did look rather pitiful today when I arrived…all slumped down in his hospital bed.
The caregiver told him that while I was there, we were going to get him in the shower,
clean him up and get his sheets changed.

I was assigned bed linen duty while the caregiver maneuvered Dad into the stand-up shower.
Dad was smelling really ripe and definitely needed a shower much to his consternation
as he was perfectly content slumped down in his oh so not fresh bed and pjs while watching Matlock.

Dad didn’t want to get up.
Dad is terribly lazy.
He is perfectly content just sitting and wallowing…
much like a pig…as he is perfectly content wallowing in the muck and mire that
makes up his little world of filth.

My grandmother would have an absolute fit if she could see him now…
as I somehow think that she would certainly not claim him…
and I know mother, who was looking down on us, would most likely be telling those
she’s met up in heaven that she has never seen that man before in her life…
or is that afterlife…anywhooo…..

Dad and the caregiver were in mid rinse as I was just finishing up the bed
when I heard a frantic call for my name.

It seems Dad decided that he just didn’t, or perhaps couldn’t, stand up any longer…
opting rather to gave up the ghost…
as he went down for the count…
sliding down along with the water working it’s way to the drain.

Have you ever tried picking up a greased watermelon?

Dad was a wet, slick bundle of pink flesh clumped on the floor of the shower
with the caregiver stuck in the corner behind him.
Steam was filling the small shower…
She was now soaked and he was listless.
More like dead, but not.
This while all of Dad’s bodily functions were now in full crisis mode..
It was a mess of epic proportions…
a terrible awful mess….

I don’t have an ACL in my right knee—an old football injury of long ago…
another story for another day…
but in a wet shower, with the water running
and shoes that are sliding while I’m trying to
lift a wet greased 170 pound watermelon…
a knee that will not hold fast only adds to the crisis.

And lets not forget I still have two ruptured discs in my back.
I now probably have two more….

We finally managed to get him up,
With me practically willing him up with my voice commands.
We wiped him down,
cleaned him up,
got him thankfully back in the fresh bed,
dried off,
and finally clothed…as best we could…

All the while my stepmother was in her room, door shut, sound asleep as she had not felt well,
none the wiser to the near 911 moment we were having in the shower.

By the time it came for me to thankfully head home, Dad, who was now clean and
was smelling so much nicer, was happily sitting propped up in his hospital bed,
happily munching on a chocolate covered doughnut wondering why the caregiver
and I seemed so stressed…

I really think God has me confused with an animal of immense burden….

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Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

Psalm 55:22

The bench

“Seated here in contemplations lost, my thought discovers vaster space beyond, supernal silence and unfathomed peace”
Giacomo Leopardi

The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it.
Wendell Berry

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(remnants of a red cedar picnic bench / Julie Cook / 2015)

Fifty years ago it came to be.
The red cedar picnic table, along with the accompanying two benches, just appeared one hot summer afternoon out back on the fenced green lawn, sheltered under the shade of the tall pine tree.
It was long before central air-conditioning.
Every window in the house was wide open.
It was cooler out rather than in.

These were the days before every home had a two, three or even four car garage.
Despite cheap gas, frugality reigned.
It was a time when everyone was home more often than away.
A time when families and neighbors would gather together outside in order to cool off, simply sharing the riches of one another’s lives.

Backyard cookouts, neighborhood block parties, a time of lazy summer days. . .
Life was delightfully slower back then.
Most moms were home, as dads were at work and the kids whiled away the hours outside.
Kick the can
Hide-n-seek
Stickball games
Collecting evening fireflies
Catching crawfish in the creek
A single voice calling out “Marco. . .”
while a handful of youthful voices echoed back “Polo. . .”

This was the time before toxic waters, child predators and electronic this and thats. .
There was no need for cell phones. . .parents knew kids would be home at dark.
High fashion consisted of tee shirts, cut offs and a new pair of keds.

Popsicles dribbled down chins,
As everyone shooed the flies aways from the platter of ice cold slices of watermelon.
Winning the seed spiting contests always went to those who still had their front teeth.
Mothers were insistent on everyone wearing their tennis shoes while youthful feet clamored to be free
“I don’t want to hear it when you get a splinter or step on a yellow jacket. . .”

A neighborhood full of youthful energy each took their places at the table, sliding onto the benches oh so gingerly so as not to rub bare legs carelessly over the red cedar wood.
“Everyone look this way and smile”. . .
As the Kodak flash cube blinked and clicked with the advancement of the film.

The paper plates were ladened with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Lays potato chips and fritos along with freshly washed green grapes. . .however it was to the ice-cream sandwiches and fudge bars that all eyes turned.
“Now ya’ll wait a while after eating–I don’t want you running around making yourselves sick. . .”
As the moms sipped iced coffee and puffed on their cigarettes.

Yet sadly, time always has a way of catching up with Life.
The children grew up and one by one, grew away.
With each passing summer there were less and less members gathered around the table.
The joyful chatter of youthful exuberance grew silent
The pine straw fell, covering the table as the benches remained empty and bare.
Abandoned and finally forgotten. . .that is until today.

Fifty years later, a lone bench is found hidden deep in the woods.
Time and the elements have each laid claim to the table and fellow bench, but the lone single bench remains much as it did—waiting and inviting any and all who might wish to sit a spell while spending a summer’s evening listening to the sound of the whip-poor-will and the distant echo of the laughter of children.

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