The Droid breaks into the night with its death rattle.
I know I plugged it in before bed, but we are in the motel room with the sign that asks us not to use the towels to clean up dirt or cosmetics.
The room where online time stutters.
The room where one outlet doesn’t work, so you choose between the bedside lamp or the clock radio.
And I have to unplug the lamp in order to charge the Droid.
But that outlet is loose.
Apparently too loose.
I knock over my water bottle (closed) and fumble with the cord in the dark.
I do a headstand, unplug the Droid, and use its backlight to find the holes and orient the plug.
My jar of foot cream rattles to the floor.
Finally I give up and clunk my head on the corner of the table.
I stub my toe on the leg of the bed and hop to the sink.
I find the outlet and insert, but the plug presses the light switch, and I’m momentarily blinded.
I fumble around some more until finally I see charging green.
While there, I use the bathroom and flush.
I shut off the light and stumble back to bed.
And I realize my husband hasn’t moved.
Hasn’t budged from his side position.
I touch the bare skin of his back.
I hold my breath and listen.
I gently slide my hand around to stomach and face to feel for any sign of breath.
I know he’s really just asleep deep after a day of swimming and 18 miles of biking.
I know that the window air conditioner has turned his body into an ice sculpture.
But . . .
Finally his foot twitches.
And I breathe easy.
I shake off the brick on my chest and brush away the panic tendrils wrapped around my throat.
Because he is my tree, my rock.
But I know how life teeters on the head of a pin.
And so Luci Shaw’s story of culling a dead oak from frozen sod after her husband died stabbed my heart.
It was then I realized why the felling of the tree occupied my thoughts so consistently and with such a sense of significance. It was because I was the frozen sod with the deep wound, and Harold was my tree who was simply…gone.
It reminded me of our towering backyard pines and other trees.
Here one moment, broken and uprooted the next in a violent wind.
The landscape of our yard changed in an instant.
Death changed Luci’s landscape.
And I knew that at that moment, in that motel room, my sculpted life could have shattered into a million pieces of crushed ice that would just melt away.
My tree could have been simply…gone.
And I’m reminded again that I can’t take the sunshine moments for granted.
That’s the power of a metaphor.
That’s the power of story.
Then he said, “How can I picture God’s kingdom for you? What kind of story can I use? It’s like a pine nut that a man plants in his front yard. It grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches, and eagles build nests in it. ~Luke 13:18-19 (MSG)
Take a peek over at The High Calling at how chapters 3 and 4 of Luci Shaw’s book, Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination, and Spirit: A Reflection on Creativity and Faith have touched others.