A house built for Florida makes my feet cold on the morning our city breaks its low-temperature record. It’s not that it hasn’t been colder than 21 degrees Fahrenheit here before, but it’s not been that cold on the 8th of December. I don’t remember having this much trouble warming up, not when I spent hours playing in snow as a kid in the northeast and not in the ‘burbs of Chicago when I would walk the 13 blocks back to the college dorm in minus-zero wind chills after finishing the night shift. But then in both of those cases, my life involved a whole lot more physical activity, and I came home to rooms outfitted with storm windows and steam heat from oil burning boilers. Generally speaking, homes were winterized. But this is Florida, and I live in a house built in 1939. If there’s such a thing in the insulation industry as a negative “R” value, I think this house has one. It just wasn’t designed for winter. Continue reading “Winterizing, Christ Bearing & Spiritual Discipline”
Like dirty laundry airing in the front yard, the brightly lettered truck advertised our Problem from the driveway. It was a heavy traffic time of day for our neighborhood, people coming home from work, walking dogs, stopping to gape at the goings-on of our house. Maybe a giant rat exterminator truck isn’t as bad as a termite tent when it comes to neighborhood spectacles, but it stopped traffic on our street. Truck and crew spent two hours diagnosing, removing and preventing the incursion of critters. Saws ripped, nail guns blasted and men crawled under the house and up ladders. Better traps were laid with better bait. The exterminator’s website says, “It’s a dirty job, and we love to do it!” I pulled out my checkbook and paid them for their dirty work. Continue reading “The Dirty Work of Re-Creation”
The trumpet blast sustained for a time as the herald cried out, “Awake, you who sleep. Arise from the dead!” I did, roused slowly by the trumpet’s sharp tenor as it finally broke the spell of sleep. I came to, rubbing the crusts of sleep from my eyes only to find in my stupor that I sat amidst a terrible battlefield. The slain were to my right and my left. Some mounted on beasts were horribly wounded but still slicing the air with their weapons. Some wielded long, shimmering swords. Others covered their heads with only bare hands, trying to absorb the blows of an enemy I was blearily trying to make out through the fog of my own daze. I was so astonished at the idea of a battle, so stunned at the thought of an actual enemy that for a long time I could not move. Until the horrific stare of its eyes turned towards me.
Rain foiled my intentions today to uproot winter from the yard. I’ve been avoiding the sad, forsaken planters and flower beds, once beautiful adornments now turned brown and brittle from the one-two punch of winter’s cold and my neglect. With the coming of warmer weather this past week, the kids have reclaimed the back yard, and dozens of red plastic cups litter the scene with secret botany experiments, “soups” I was told. Here and there between cups, the 4 and 5-year-old children proudly marked thirty-some of the dog’s land mines with bricks leftover from an addition project, an idea they thought quite imaginative. It’s as though, instead of spring, we are sprouting bricks. A collapsing, old Cozy Coupe is parked in front of the screened door, and “Nella” the scooter is parked haphazardly close so that you can’t open the door more than a few inches without hitting it. A bucket sits on the step with yet another soup that will spill its guts just as soon as someone decides to open the door and exit. Along the back fence, someone ran the Green Gator into the Cast Irons where it has idly collected leaves and pollen and more soups. I wonder how many mosquito larvae may be mixed in with this one, patiently waiting for the first day warm enough to hatch? Continue reading “Uprooting Winter”
I read a book I can’t finish. I’ve read every page, but I’m not done with it. It smelled of something monumental, sent flutters into the pit of my stomach whispering, “Listen. See. Hear.” The book wasn’t about the next self-help step. It didn’t unlock a passage of scripture that provides a prayer you can pray to find ultimate joy or prosperity. Instead it exposed a sin, an ancient sin that Dante and Chaucer wrote about, Luther mentioned, the desert fathers feared and that monks in monasteries around the world seem to know intimately. One of the famous seven deadly sins, it seems to have lost popularity over the ages; and the reason I’m not done with the book is because I’m afflicted with it. The sin is acedia, and what the author of Acedia and Me, Kathleen Norris, wrote about it, cut deeply. I knew I’d been had by something. Continue reading “The Lost Sin”