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One Chair, One Table, One Book


18 April 2020

Life at 8,000 feet in a narrow valley is exhilarating. The November sun disappears behind a boulder strewn cliff around noon.

Every Spring I thrust my hands into still-frozen earth silently imploring it to wake up–I nuzzle it like a baby’s head. I over-water everything with hope and watch as the tiniest green shoots get smothered in mold or eaten by rabbits as big as lambs.

I stand on glacier smoothed stone with a wide grin and empty head, lungs absorbing all the power of a brain dislodged from its natural habitat too long.

My little family pushes its desires into the story of the valley and the valley pushes back. It wraps its umbilical cord around our necks and hearts until the this scruffy dry patch of earth and trees become all we ever want to know as home. Still, we dream of escape. But not now. Not yet.

For now, we are protected by hillocks of pines and few neighbors.

But this year, just as the earth sloughed winter from the darkest crannies, the world was upended by death. Spring was tenuous and even the garden fruits we pinned our hopes on were stunted and bitter. Luxuries as small as seed pearls were privately sought, savored, and quickly followed by anguish.

We took too much for granted standing right next to those who could take nothing for granted.

Metaphors fail us now. We clutch at the void thrumming in our chests and can’t make the noise of dying go away. The earth struggles to receives its own again in silence.

Whoever is left standing must be made wise and holy in the valley of shadows.

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