First Congregational Church
(United Church of Christ)
Neil H. Wilson, Pastor

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720
231-547-9122


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Part of the “In” Crowd

John 14: 15-21

 

During my time with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) I learned that one of their particular tenets was the importance of truthfulness and “speaking the truth” whether in religious, social or business affairs.  For many of my Quakers friends this meant carefully choosing words that in order to say as best and truthful as you can what you intend to say.  It was Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain (who was not a Quaker!) who said “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”   But then he also said “Honesty is the best policy — when there is money in it.”

There is a nuanced power of language such that  even two letter words can carry  a influence greater than their size  (Remember the famous “It depends upon what your definition of is is.”)

The word for you this morning is “in.”    

In    It’s a tiny word. Two letters: one vowel, one consonant.  Basic.  In many ways it seems as if it should not matter all that much.  That is perhaps, if it wasn’t Jesus who uses it!  But here we have Jesus , promising to be “in” the people who keep his commandments, his earliest disciples, and promising too that those disciples will be “in” him.  So here are we, who may think of ourselves as heirs to those disciples, and maybe we are wondering about this little word “in” as well. 

Is Jesus actually “in” us?  Like in some sort of crazy SiFi channel  sort of shape shifter thing? Or is it a spiritual  thing like the communion elements? Or just a metaphor? How would we know?

The key maybe just be what Jesus has told them prior to this where Jesus promises the gift of the Paraclete, Advocate, the Spirit of truth, who will be with them – with us – forever.  It can be easy for us to hear the word “spirit” and immediately think of warm, personal feelings – feelings of security, of connection with God.  Many of our hymns seem to focus on an experience of the Spirit that is personal like that.  This understanding offers many of us comfort, especially when the world around us seems to be spinning out of control. 

But think about for a moment what the word “advocate” might conjure up.  “Advocate” the Greek word is “paraclete,” which means one who has been “called to our side,” to stand up for us, to explain us to the court.  Think of lawyer shows on television.  Think of detectives and mystery and action.  The Paraclete, the Advocate, is a force on the move. 

Jesus calls the Spirit another Advocate.  The first Advocate is Jesus himself.  Our reading from 1 John states this explicitly.  “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” 

And Jesus was certainly a force on the move.  Think of the meals with outcasts and sinners.

Think of the moneychangers in the temple. 

Think of the healings and the preaching, the travels between Galilee and Jerusalem. 

The story of Jesus is a story not of private feelings and comfort, but of action.

This Paraclete, Advocate Jesus promises, “will be with you . . in you.”   Jesus himself will be “in” the disciples, as he is “in” the Father, and as the disciples will be “in” him.  Is it enough to imagine some kind of mystical union?  Is the indwelling of Christ or the Spirit of truth like a sense of warmth or a feeling of confidence?  Is it an abstract notion or a state of grace? 

Remember the scene with Jesus standing before Pilate.  Pilate asks Jesus “What is truth?”  Jesus stands there in silence.  Why does he not answer?

The answer is right there.  You are looking at it, Pilate.  The truth is standing in front of you.  Watch him, and you will find out what truth is. 

We cannot see the Spirit, but we can “see” Jesus.  Through the stories of scripture we can “see” Jesus healing, and teaching, and dying in his faithfulness.  Draw an outline around that moving picture of Jesus, and you have a framework for recognizing the truth Pilate was asking about.  You also have a framework for recognizing the Spirit of truth, the Advocate, Jesus himself dwelling in and among us.

Throughout the gospels we can find Jesus operating in community, with his disciples and with the other people he serves.  The story about Jesus is not the story of Jesus and a single disciple, like some of the prophets and holy men and women from other traditions.  Jesus is present and active with groups of people – real people who sometime struggle just to get along and other times enjoy sharing their successes and resources, their hopes and their questions.   So when Jesus promises to be “in” his disciples, and promises that they will be “in” him, it seems that he cannot be promising only a mystical union with individual believers.  Everything we know about Jesus suggests someone who is operating as an active presence in a communal setting. 

In fact, the Greek word usually translated “in you” can also be translated “among you” (plural). 

How might this impact our ability to receive Jesus’ promise if we put less emphasis on our individualized, mystical interpretation and more on this communal approach?  Not that we do not ever have any personal mystical experience of the Spirit for we do, I have!  But if we consider it in the communal context, might it reduce our anxiety about whether we are really “right with God”?  Might it, in fact, lead us to dwell less on our own, individual worthiness and focus our energy on an active life of faithful service?  Believing the promise that Jesus, the Spirit of truth, will be “in” us as we are in this service to him?

I was reading recently about Mother Teresa of Calcutta and I was rather taken aback by the professed spiritual struggle she had much of her life.  In Mother Teresa’s writings she tells of her lifetime of struggle – struggle with the darkness that plagued her because for more than half of her life, she did not feel the presence of Christ. *

Nonetheless, among Christians she has generally been regarded as a modern saint.  Some consider her an even greater saint because in spite of the dark she continued to be faithful.  Even though she had not been gifted with spiritual certainty, she steadfastly pursued the mission to which she believed she had been called, and the Christian community recognized and affirmed that mission.

Jesus clearly promises his presence and the presence of the Spirit to those who keep his commandments to love and serve one another.  The love Jesus commands is not a feeling – not even a feeling of certainty about union with Christ.  The love Jesus commands is about a master washing the feet of his disciples, and a king dying the death of a criminal.  We have this outline around the moving picture of Jesus, an outline that can define the Spirit of truth as it appears in our own lives and our own actions.

What if we were to understand Jesus’ words this way?

What if we were to recognize that Christ is truly present among us when we keep his commandments  to love and serve one another?

Look around us in our community – our church community as well as the greater community in which we live and serve – and see where you can discern that outline around the picture of Jesus on the move.  See where, in the familiar life of this group of God’s people, where you can discern the presence of the Spirit of truth.

Where is Jesus?  Look for the action, the movement.

There he will be in the “in” crowd!  Are you?

 

* When Leadership and Spiritual Direction Meet: Stories and Reflections for Congregational Life  by Gil W. Stafford

 

***Listen to Pastor Neil’s Audio version of his Sermon by selecting “DOWNLOAD FILE” below…Enjoy!


What About Us?

What About Us?
John 14: 1-14

If I were to show you this (older model “flip phone”) you would probably recognize it as a cell phone. Our grandchildren play with this and think of it as an historic relic! And when I tell them about rotary phones and party lines, they roll their eyes as if I were giving them the standard old people’s line: “When I was your age I had to . . .”
Have you found it increasingly more difficult to keep up with life? I’m not speaking of the physical slowing down that is the natural progression of aging something that has plagued humanity from the beginning.

I thinking about how this world has become an increasingly more complex place in which to live. The culture which existed in 1950’s America has passed and some of us may feel ill equipped to face the new future. Many of us who grew up in the late 50s or 60s and even though the 1960s was touted as a time of rebellion and great change, we now find ourselves woefully lacking in the technological prowess which seems to be natural to the younger generation. Our grandchildren are computer geniuses compared to us, are they not! What seems so simple to them, is a bit complex and confusing for me. I hear some of my generation and older saying that there is no place for us anymore. We just don’t fit. Not sure where we belong.

It’s not that they are planning to “check out” early, mind you. They just don’t know how to cope with the increasing complexity of life. And it is not just technology that has us stymied. Some of us might feel the same. But few are ready to take it to the extreme that Christopher Knight did. I just finished the book The Stranger in the Woods about the “hermit of North Pond” Maine. When he was finally “caught” in 2013 the authorities asked how long he had been there in the woods. His reply, “When was the Space Shuttle explosion?” Twenty-seven years he lived alone in the woods of central Maine. Unfortunately though, while he never physically harmed anyone, never smashed a door or broke a pane of glass, he stole foods and items in order to survive, yet he took only enough to survive.
This is nothing new brought on by onslaught of our high tech world but a fear which has befallen each generation when for that generation things seem to rapidly change beyond their understanding. And so we ask: What about us? Where do we fit in? Christopher Knight felt that he didn’t fit in so he took to the woods. (I can sympathize to a point.)

As people of faith, though, how do we wrestle with this question? For some it is rather simple, as the answer might appear to be. As elders, parents, grandparents have done for generations, we can still tell the stories of our faith and our journey. That is a response which makes us feel a little better. But who will listen? Who will see? Will this not sound just like another version of “When I was a kid we walked to school uphill both ways in 12” of snow year round!”
In some ways the disciples of Jesus face a similar identity dilemma. He presented them with the fact that he would not be with them for much longer. And not only would he be gone from them, he would be taken from them in such a way that the painful experience would leave them filled with fear and doubt.
The life the disciples had come to know with their teacher was changing rapidly, in some very unexpected and undesired ways beyond their control. What do you mean you’re going to be handed over? What are we to do then? Where are we to go? What is expected of us?

The disciples’ world with the Roman occupiers and those in religious leadership who were in collusion with them, made life a very tense and at times an angry place. Jesus brought a gospel of love, peace and hope, but it appears that at every turn this message was squashed by hatred, bigotry and prejudice. They were discouraged, very discouraged. And now Jesus tells them that he will be leaving them fend for themselves. What? What do you mean you going away? What about us, Jesus? This is not what we signed up for!

Jesus reminds them that they are loved by God and belong with God. This will never change, no matter what their circumstances are. Take hope and courage in this knowledge now for soon there will be a time for going to work, spreading Jesus’ good news of God’s presence and love. The greater the world’s confusion and hostility, the greater the need for healing and hope. They had a job to do and when that job was complete, in God’s good time, they would find their rest.
God has a purpose for each of us. God has called you here to this place, this time, a sort of upper room place, if you will, to receive healing balm, to experience love and peace, to abide in the eternal hope which is Christ. When congregational worship and fellowship is at its best, this is what we offer each other in Christ. Healing, love, peace, encouragement and hope.

It is my calling, my assignment, as pastor to set before you Jesus, not me, not the church, but Jesus. When the disciples gazed upon Jesus, standing before them, they could see God in a most unique way. Now they were needed to embody the ways of God’s realm to a broken world. And Jesus promises to be with them. He wouldn’t let them down. They could count on that – you can count on that! And today as much as ever, the world, our community, our families need our witness of God’s healing love.

You, who abide in God’s house, are called, empowered, and challenged to be the witnesses.

You are never too old or too young. And you know what none of depends on your computer literacy or the understanding of the latest technology. And while some biblical knowledge is good, God seems to have a way of using just about anybody God calls. Remember, God doesn’t call the prepared but prepares the called. Far more often God has come to me through a source or a person I would not have expected!

Jesus has shown us the way. His is the way, the truth and the life. “Believe in God” He said, “Believe also in me. . .”

Live the love you have been shown, be a welcoming presence in the name of God to all whom you meet.

And to help us accomplish this Jesus promises the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

But that is next week’s message!

 

Want to listen to Pastor Neil preach this message?  Select “Download File” Below and enjoy…


The Gate and gatekeepers

Sermon ~ Sunday, May 7, 2017 ~ Pastor Neil Wilson

The Gate and gatekeepers

John 10: 1-16

The Dixfield Congregational Church is where it all began. I had spent the summer of 1986 doing some pulpit supply In early November I got a call to fill in at the church in Dixfield. At the end of the service they asked if I was available for the following Sunday, which I was. At the conclusion of that second Sunday’s service, old Jim Convery offered me a proposition which I accepted and lead to almost 6 years of pastoral ministry with that congregation. The Dixfield Congregational Church was known as “the Church on the Hill.” Its steeple could be seen for miles. To reach the steeple required climbing four levels of stairs and ladders after which you emerge through a trap door out to the bell and then you could step out onto a three foot wide walkway around the steeple. The view of the Androscoggin River valley and Dixfield was encompassing.
The story I was told that lies behind the church’s location is that there were two factions in the congregation (imagine that!) One wanted to build the church in the village where Hall Hill Road leaves Main Street forming a wye. The other wanted to build the church up on the hill overlooking the town. The huge split granite foundation stones were purchased and awaiting the final decision when the hill top contingent took it upon themselves to move the granite blocks in the dark of night so that by the time morning arrived the foundation stones were in place.
It is a beautiful spot for a church building with one little caveat, it was essentially inaccessible for anyone with physical mobility concerns. It sits on bedrock (which the Bible says is a good thing!) so there is no basement. The hill dropped away from the church on all sides so that when I mowed the grass I lowered the the old Lawnboy mower down on ropes! So there was not enough room to put in a A.D.A. approved ramp. It would have required more switchbacks than the Pikes Peak Auto Road.
Try as we might, while I was there, we could not come up with a resolution to this access problem. There were those who just did not have access the church and its worship with us.

Todays’ gospel is about shepherds and sheep and things that perhaps seem disconnected from most of us in our 21st century world. Jesus speaks first about the nature of a sheepfold, the place where shepherds kept their flocks overnight, safe from the dangers of the night. It was in the sheepfolds where the shepherd would care for his/her sheep and they would get to know the voice of their shepherd in the shared protection of the sheepfold’s walls.
“[The shepherd]calls his own sheep by name,” Jesus says, “and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
The sheepfold was a place of welcome, of community, but more a place of safety and rest in the care of the shepherd. As He often did Jesus was speaking in analogy or parable form and as often happened the Pharisees didn’t get it so Jesus tries another approach.
“I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.” And again in verse nine “I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”
And in v. 10, “I came that they may have life,” Jesus says, “and have it abundantly.”
Jesus says he is the Gate! The way in . . . and the way out! The access point, the one through whom we pass in order to find safety and respite. For the religious leaders who got it this time and who assumed that they set the criteria for who had access to the benefits of God, this not added not only to their frustration but anger as well.
Think about gates for a moment. Some gates are made to keep people or things in: children in the playground, pets in backyards, livestock in the pasture. Other gates are there to keep us out: gates at the ends of long private drives, gates around businesses, gates around properties. A garden gate draped with flowering vines can welcome us to enter a place of beauty and peace. Gates surrounded with razor wire send a very different message!
There are gates, then there are gatekeepers. These are those people who monitor the gate, deciding who gets in, who has access to what or whom. Watch dogs and security personnel are the most obvious gatekeepers we might think of, but what about the person who stands between you and your next promotion?
What about boards and committees with excess power and influence?
How about folks who say “we don’t do it that way around here” or “you don’t belong here” because of what you believe or who you love, the color of your skin or your gender or your age?
Notice though, Jesus doesn’t say he is a gatekeeper! He is the Gate itself, inviting “whoever” to enter, and “be saved,” (safe). He allows easy access, in and out, safety , and life.
The Gate, the way to intimacy with God.
The Gate, to the place of welcome, security, freedom and rest. Jesus says to the Pharisees and any others listening, that he isn’t about restricting or stealing or harming but about offering life – and this in abundance! Life that is sweet and whole and full!
I wonder about this easy access . . . do we find it or offer it in our own lives, in our own church? I wonder about this kind of unfettered welcome where folks can come and go, where abundance is what life is all about.
There are lots of churches where multiple gatekeepers obscure the welcome of the “Jesus gate,” plenty of places where folks who don’t fit the theological, physical, or spiritual mold aren’t invited in. Making churches accessible to the physically handicapped is a great challenge for many of our old buildings, it can be nearly impossible to invest enough money so that all can physically come into our buildings.
But our churches can be inaccessible in many other ways as well. Have you ever visited a church where it felt like there was some sort of invisible barrier? It has been called to my attention the many ways we limit people’s access to our faith communities, even to God. We abbreviate things in the bulletin (We say to save space and paper?!) so that only those who “know” get the message. (we getting better you probably noticed some time ago that we now have the words to this thing called the Doxology and the words that we use for the Lord’s Prayer.
We say “Everyone is welcome,” but we often do not say where we’re meeting or if we do how to get there or what we’re really about. We give lip service to wanting everyone to feel “at home” but we don’t really mean we want homeless people,
or sexual minority people,
or people who are more conservative or more liberal than us,
or deaf or blind people, or people who speak another language teaching our children and serving as church greeters and officers, do we?
If we are open to these, then we need to ask ourselves: “How will these people know they are welcome here?”
And if we are not open to them, we need to ask: “What is it about their presence that we are afraid of? What causes us withhold the welcome of Jesus to them?”
“I am the gate,” Jesus says. “Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture (refreshment, relaxation, peace, rest). I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Easy access, a genuine welcome, abundant living.
May we each hear this word of welcome and may our faith be lived in such a way that we grant easy access to any and all who seek the Jesus gate and with it, abundance of life!
I am glad to report that the Dixfield church has resolved their access concerns. It required buying the small house just to the north of the church and tearing it down and this gave them the space and distance to put in the A.D.A. ramp to the back door of the church.

Listen to the audio version by clicking on “Download File” below:


Crossing the Barrens

Sermon ~ Sunday, April 30th, 2017 ~ Pastor Neil Wilson

Crossing the Barrens
Luke 24: 13-35

The Blaisdell boys, Doug and Caleb, were down at Longmeadow’s Wharf in Wally’s Fish Market & Bait shop picking up a barrel of pogies last week. “Pogies?” You might call them herring but round here they’re pogies. Oily, smelly, nasty business, a barrel of pogies, but lobsters love them!
Well, last week they were stocking up for their first setting of pots for the season and they were telling this strange tale about a trip they took over the Barrens a couple of weeks ago. They were on their way to Ferguson’s Funeral Home in Uniondale, their beloved Mimi passed away right before Easter.
Georgie Vernon, lovingly known as “Mimi” to her grandsons, Doug and Caleb, was their mother’s mother. Mimi’s only child, Gloria, married Cliff Blaisdell. It was a sad thing her dying when the boys were just 7 & 9. Their father had a difficult time coping and ended up hitting the bottle pretty hard, so Mimi took the boys in and pretty much raised them.

Mimi lived here in town most of her life but near the end moved into the Maple Grove Care Center in Uniondale. Maple Grove is run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. It’s a nice place, if one has to be in such a place. The Adventists are good people.

Mimi was a lifelong member of the Pine Plains Baptist Church and would take the boys across the Barrens every Sunday to attend church with her. That is until they were teens and rebelled, as teenagers will. They never rebelled against Mimi or religion in general just her form of it. Their form of rebellion was to get up early on Sunday mornings and go lobster fishing in their grandfather’s old skiff.

Mimi died on a Friday. It was a miserable, misty morning which turned to rain and roads to mud in the afternoon.

The boys miss her something fierce.

Seems they were on their way over to the visitation at Ferguson’s that Sunday afternoon and decided to take the Stud Mill Road across the Barrens to Uniondale. Not the most direct route nor the most traveled and for good reason, the road was gravel all the way and if it wasn’t wash boardy, it was filled with mud holes.
That afternoon the road was both rough and filled with muddy spots. As they maneuvered their way across the barrens they spoke about Mimi as affectionately as two lobstermen could speak with any level of emotion. (Which wasn’t much!) Among other things they were recalling the smell of her kitchen when they would come home from school, the feel of those flannel sheets and the scratchy wool military blankets she would get out on the especially cold nights.
Doug was driving and as they crested Butterfield Knoll the way looked fairly smooth and clear so he applied a little more throttle. At the end of the stretch though was a blind corner, not that anyone would be coming but what they couldn’t see was the old spruce that had toppled over in the recent rain and was blocking most of the road. Doug made a quick decision to try to squeeze the truck around the tree hoping the shoulder of the road wouldn’t be too soft. Doug allowed he should have known better, mud season in these parts and all, but the other option was to take the chance of not stopping in time and hitting the tree.
There they were the frame of their pickup sitting right in the mud. Of course everyone knows that out in these parts of the barrens there is no cell phone reception whatsoever. Their only option was to hoof it and hope to find someone. It was still over 10 miles to Uniondale.
It was bad enough that they were on their way to their beloved Mimi’s visitation and that they would no longer know her love and comforting presence but now they would be late if they make it at all. Whose hair-brained idea was it to take the Stud Mill Road anyway? The guilt torn at them making the grief even more unbearable.

They had been walking about 15-20 minutes when they crossed over glacial esker known locally as “The Whaleback.” They rounded another turn and there back off the road about a hundred yards they see a house up on a windswept rise. They didn’t realize that there was anyone that lived out here but obviously someone did, there were clothes on a line strung out the back flapping in the wind and smoke rising out of the single center chimney. A old wooden wheelbarrow serves as a flower bed with some spring flowers just starting to bloom.

But no vehicle in the drive.

They go to the door and before they can knock and older woman opens the door and invites them in.

“I see’d you acomin’ ovah the Whaleback.” She tells them before they could ask.

“And Nope. Don’t have a phone. Least right now. Storm took it out when the tree fell on the line. I suppose it was the same tree that put you fella’s in the ditch.”

“But I do have some coffee in the pot and some donuts in the frying pan.”

Well, according the Doug & Caleb’s account the next thing they knew they were sitting at the kitchen table with two mugs of coffee and a plate of fresh, hot out of the pan home-made donuts. They both noticed it at the time but didn’t say anything about it until after, that coffee was so strong it needed extra sugar to get it down the coffee. And then there was how the old woman went to the frig and brought out little glass serving pitcher of heavy cream, no half & half! The home-made donuts were placed on the table in a dinner plate with a sheet of paper towel under them and the towel was soggy with the oil from the donuts. Wasn’t this just like you know who?

“You boy’s got yourselves in a gaum, I ‘d say.” She said as she flopped another round of donut batter in the frying pan.

“Gaum!” They didn’t know many others who used that expression other than . . .

Caleb was the first to speak, “Ma’am, do you have any idea when the phone line might be fixed?”

“Hard telling not knowing.” she replied carefully flipping the donuts.

“Been out for three days now. I s’pect someone will be out ‘day or tamarrah.”

“Hard telling not knowing!” Wait a minute! That sounds just like . . .

“Suppose you boys are in a hurry to get somewheah.” Doug gave his brother a slight tap with his foot under the table and nodded his head in the direction of the window over the kitchen sink. Caleb didn’t notice it at first but once he did it sent shivers through the crusty lobsterman.

There attached by little suction cups were two sun catchers. You know, those little plastic ones that kids make. A daisy and a cross. Just like the ones they had made for their Mimi during Vacation Bible School some 20 odd years ago. No, no couldn’t be. She must have children or grandchildren that attended some VBS at some time. Yeah, that must be it.

There on the table beside the salt and pepper shakers was a worn Bible and sitting on top of it was an equally well used copy of Oswald Chambers “My Utmost for His Highest.”

A tear rolled down the wind burnt cheek of that tough seasoned fisherman, as Doug remembered his Mimi’s favorite quote she posted over the kitchen sink: “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” It was said by the very same Mr. Oswald Chambers.

The old woman chattered on with them talking about this and that and nothing in particular and sitting here in the warm smells of this woman’s kitchen, they felt their worries about being late for the visitation slip away, their concerns about the upcoming lobster season seemed unimportant. They felt washing over them an un-explainable peace, a very real Presence; and even as they retold it down at Wally’s they stumbled looking for words adequate to describe what it felt like sitting at the old woman’s kitchen table.

How long they had sat there? Neither would venture a guess, two hours, five hours, but it was the old phone on the wall that brought them out of the warm, numinous moment they found themselves bathed in.

The old woman looked at them and said “God ahead and answer it.”

Doug was closest. He got up and lifted the receiver of the old yellow rotary phone dial phone. It was Sandra with the Downeast Phone company letting them know that the lines were now open. Doug made a quick call to Packard’s Garage and Perry said he could be out with his tow truck in about 45 minutes. “And just what were they doing on the Stud Mill Road after all this rain?”

They thank the old woman for her coffee and donuts and the wonderful conversation. And couldn’t they do something for her?

“Oh no I have all I need. Besides I’ve got others I’m expecting.”

“You boys are going to be okay.” She said with a twinkle in her eye and soft tone in her voice that gave them more comfort than the mere words should have.

By the time they made it back to their mired truck, Perry Packard was there and had already pulled the tree out of the way and was now running the winch cable back to the tow hooks on the bumper of their pickup.

With a little effort the truck was back on relatively solid ground, after promising to catch up with Perry on Monday, the boys climbed in and fired up the engine.

They noticed that the clock on the radio said it was 3:00 p.m.

How could that be they certainly spent more than the hour with the old woman that the time on the clock indicated. At this rate they would still make the visitation! 

Just then a truck from Adrian’s’ Tree Service came along and told them that the rest of the way into Uniondale was now clear. With Caleb behind the wheel now, they eased down the road being careful to stay right in the middle where it was driest.

They climbed up over “The Whaleback”, down the other side, around the corner. There on the windswept rise is the old woman’s house.

They slow down as they drive by turn and just stare at each other. Before them is a house, most of the first floor windows are broken out and the front door is swinging in the cold north Atlantic wind that sweeps across the barrens.

There is no smoke curling out of the chimney, no clothes flapping in the wind, no phone or utility lines running into the house. But there in the middle of the front yard is a single flower surrounded by a what looks like old pieces of oak boards and a few pieces of rusty iron. And both Doug and Caleb swear on their Mimi’s eternal life that there was an Easter Lily growing in the midst of what was once and old wooden wheel barrow.

 

Listen to the original audio version by selecting “Download File” below and enjoy!