A strange thing happened last night which I think must be what accounts for my having had a very bad day today. There is no other reason that I can think of, except that I broke two of my newly purchased terracotta pots when I stopped at a red light.
That did make me furious, I must admit, really ridiculously furious considering that it was entirely my own fault. The pots only cost a dollar something each and were quickly replaced when I went back out for tomatoes and lettuce. It could not have been the pots.
And it couldn't have been the fact that instead of going on post to do my grocery shopping like I had been steeling myself to do now for weeks, I went to Walmart as usual. I just couldn't. I just simply couldn't drive up to the gate and present my I.D. and drive, stressed out and anxious, to the commissary.
And I couldn't see myself pushing the cart up and down the isles muttering under my breath, "Cash back, cash back; you must get cash back to tip the bagger." And trying to avoid looking at soldiers because it makes me heart sick for my own while my shoulders are up around my ears from the stress of it all.
And then waiting in line for the number to light up and then fumbling around for my I.D. again and then forgetting, of course, to ask for cash back and then not being able to tip the bagger and the weirdness of walking to my car while being followed by said bagger and groceries.
It couldn't have been avoiding all that which made the day so bad; after all, I'm sure I didn't spend that much more at Walmart than I would have at the commissary. And at Walmart I bought a Big Boy tomato plant and Sweet Basil and Cilantro and Lemon Thyme and the aforementioned terracotta pots.
I did very well with my shopping too; all my purchases trundling sedately down the belt to the cash register declared me to be an Informed Consumer. Generic spring scented detergent and fabric softer, fat free yogurt and all kinds of fruit and milk and orange juice and twelve grain bread.
The addition of Diet Coke (in preparation for my mother coming) pleasureably brought to mind cold glasses full to the brim with tinkling ice and fizzing gently away, desultory conversation, a good book, the smell of dinner cooking.
No, it couldn't have been the shopping, or the deprivation of caffeine until twelve o'clock. I had left the house in a hurry, as though by forcing the point I might actually turn left at the end of our street, and thus to the commissary and not right, toward cowardice and Big Boy tomatoes.
The lack of coffee can account for the missing tomatoes and lettuce that I only remembered when I got home, and a dull headache. But not a terrible day, because by twelve fifteen I had a hot cup of freshly ground and very strong coffee on the picnic table outside, while I potted up my plants; I drank the coffee with hands smudged by good, organic soil.
I had a lunch of BLT with maple bacon, which I ate in the bedroom while I finished reading "The Pilgrim's Inn" by Elizabeth Goudge, a book so good that the reading of it yesterday had caused the entire day to be good and was so much company that I never turned on the TV at all, but had a dinner of toast with honey and tea, curled up in the corner of the couch, in an amber pool of lamp light, while the fresh winds outside blew cool and damp through the house.
It was the book itself that had triggered the strange occurrence. I had been upstairs, propped up on pillows and accompanied by loving dogs and reading and loving such sentences as "Struggle is divine in itself, but to ask to see it crowned with success is to ask for that sign which is forbidden to those who must travel by faith alone...Good Lord, how tedious I am! That's the sermon I preached last Sunday. They all had a good sleep and I thanked God that I'd been able to rest them so nicely."
As I was reading I felt suddenly and very simply an outpouring of God's love on me, as though He had opened a door into an inner room that belongs to me. Usually I keep the door shut; sometimes He delights to surprise me by swinging it wide.
"Yes, Dear," I said. "And I love You too." And then my love for God, which is old and true and defining, rolled over like a wave and got all tangled up with my love for my husband. And I saw him suddenly, clearly.
It was so clear that I could see how the sweat had made the close shaved hair at his temples darker, clump together into little darts and the sweat glistened amid the stubble on his cheeks. His heavy, round shoulders were slumped inward, whether from concentration or weariness I could not tell. He was not looking at me.
I put my hand on his head and prayed without words. It was a glad prayer, an up-swelling of love and delight. I didn't feel any fear at the time, or strangeness. The moment passed and I closed the door, gently, and went back to my book. I felt full of peace and good company.
But as soon as I turned out the light I felt a shiver of unease. Why had that moment occurred? And it was worse because it has been a few days now since I have heard from Keith and the normal and reassuring sound of his voice usually keeps at bay the worst of those thoughts.
Without him the other voices get louder, were very loud by the time I woke up and realized he hadn't called that night. I am sure that the effort at keeping those voices at bay have been the root cause of all my restless misery today. He'll call, either tonight or tomorrow and I'll feel rather foolish and ridiculously light headed with relief. And he will have no idea.
In the meantime, I guess I'll drink my tea and sit on the deck and read.
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