Under the Broom Tree: Some Final Thoughts on The Gift


The alarm sounds before dawn, but I don’t need it–I have been awake for a while…obsessing.

It happens occasionally, this pre-dawn paranoia. Yesterday was long and perhaps I said some things I shouldn’t have.

Now those careless words won’t leave me be.

I’ve been under the broom tree for a few days now. Like that illustrious prophet, Elijah, I’ve been feeling discouraged…having a bit of a pity party.

The thoughts continue to flood in, so I do the only thing that seems to work at these times: try to outrun them.

The moon is still out when I breach the stillness, the white of a sunless sky just beginning to filter the horizon. Fog gathers in pools around my legs as I take those first steps, moisture clings to skin, breath is snaky tendril trailing.

I pour it out with each step, use that anxious energy to propel me forward.

Exorcism.

I run until my tired legs and oxygen gasping brain can only give one word, one Name.

I repeat it over and over; let it become the rhythm of my steps–while fingers find that tiny silver reminder that jostles against my skin.

My mind turns to the book we’ve been reading, and my heart turns inside of me.

My faith in the Gift’s return is wavering.

What if I am tired of giving?

The water in the reservoir lake is dark and murky, no sun play on its surface. A strange odor lingers. A heron stands erect, watching me with one eye.

I run on.

God tended to Elijah. Sent an angel to feed and water him under that broom tree.

Then He gave the prophet more work to do.

The thought causes a tightness in my chest.

And when God sent him to call Elisha as his successor, Elijah said,

“What have I done to you?”

Gift-living is hard.

Lewis Hyde does not speak in terms of emotional consequences of leaving our gifts behind without a promise.

I feel them today.

If only I could run to a cave and hear the whisper of God as Elijah did…

What would He say?

Probably the same thing he said then.

“What are you doing here, Laura?”

Translation: “What’s the matter with you? Why are you feeling sorry for yourself? Get back to work.”

But only after He’d let me rest under the broom tree. And sent His angel to tend me. And listened.

He always listens.

As I come upon my last mile and a half, the hills take on a rosy glow. The sun peeps up over their swells, her rounded head rising rapidly.

I think of what Chesterton said about monotony:

‘The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening,“Do it again” to the moon. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, our Father is younger than we.’

I have never considered a sunrise monotonous.

Not like the details of my life.

Sighing, I will my body up this hill, the last one before home.

As I approach our home, a small hound dog emerges from the meadow. Her head down, she approaches me, tail wagging.

I bend to cup her ears.

“Where did you come from, sugar?”

She reeks. Smells like the reservoir.

She follows me up the porch steps and whines when I go inside.

But when I return with food and water, she is gone, following the scent of some invisible trail.

I pray she finds her way back home.

Set the bowls down.

And leave them…just in case.

I did it. I outran the bad thoughts.

Restored, my heart thrills in this knowing: this gift-life will never be monotonous.

More thoughts on The Gift, by Lewis Hyde: Sam and L.L.

Comments

  1. says

    You just can’t help your words, can you? They come, despite trying to outrun them. I was right there with you on that trail, chasing sunrise while trying to outrun the shadows of the night.

    Beautifully fresh, my friend. Loved running this lap with you.

    peace~elaine

  2. says

    Whew! What a story/run. Loved running with you even though I don’t run. Enjoyed the vision of mom and two sons shopping – don’t miss those days. Before long you can give them a budget, let them lose, go drink a cup of coffee, meet them, go buy the stuff, and be gone! It still works – my college senior comes home. We go to the mall. I go my way. He goes his. He texts me – ready? When we meet he has the clothes over his arm – now underbudget – he’s learned. I pay for them. We are outa’ there. Give it two more seasons of shopping Laura. As usual loved dropping by. Missed you at She Speaks!

  3. says

    I can’t seem to get my words in order here Laura. I have felt those same things – not many days ago.
    I keep thinking that the Father knew that rest and refreshment were required before the work could begin again. I’m not sure how that happens – perhaps in different ways according to our needs. I just know that somehow He takes the monotony and somehow suffuses it with joy (in spite of ourselves) and we walk (or run in your case – I’m too old for anything more than a brisk walk)into another day.
    You are an amazing writer Laura!

  4. says

    doing the only thing that seems to work …

    you run

    for me yesterday it was sitting under an ivy-covered arbor with His promises in hand … as well as my tears … not 10 feet from a handful of deer.

    a day can set food and water out for us … as we do the only thing we can … journey home.

    bless you, laura

    laure
    http://www.ahselah.blogspot.com

  5. says

    Lord, Help me to remain as childlike as You! So I can enjoy the excitement of every aspect your gift of Life brings to me and never feel like it has become monotonous. “Do it again Lord! Do it again!” Amen

    Laura
    THANKS!
    Christy

  6. says

    Laura:
    The picture on my post is from our vacation. It is the lighthouse in Corolla, NC.
    Thank you for your encouraging words.
    Blessings, andrea

  7. says

    I too am learning to watch my words and use them to bless and not to curse. Sweet one, I have had my time under the broom tree. And I too rejoice that He listens!

    Besitos (little kisses in spanish),
    Sarah Dawn

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