When I pull in the parking lot for work on Monday morning the moon still hangs low and round in the silver sky. I climb out of my van and stand in this sea of cars and tilt my head up to see. It’s a gift on a glum morn and I whisper thanks and let beauty lift for a moment. It smells like rain and as I walk the block to the hospital’s doors I see dew has sealed leaves to the sidewalk like a licked envelope. I wonder about the messages folded underneath—what kind of secrets have soles walked away from on these streets? The air smells like chimney smoke and there are whispers of fall all around and I drag my feet through the ER, nod to the security guard, and hit the elevator button.
This is what I do.
They all seem to get to me today but there is always one. And he tells me I just want them to look at me—treat me like a person. And he paces in that wheelchair and I can see the pain in his eyes and I tell him he can’t take it personal. The world is full of people who look straight through you. So when I look at him, I try tosee him and I wonder all day—is it so wrong to want to be treated like you matter?
And as I labor under fluorescent lights, a few blocks down one of my best friends is taking an oath of citizenship. She stands next to forty other immigrants and makes a promise and listens to speakers and eats cookies made by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Later, another friend and I, we take her out—buy a pitcher of margaritas and some chalupas and she tells us about the ceremony. Her brown face shines and she wears a handmade American flag pinned to her lapel.
When you become a British citizen, she says. You don’t swear allegiance to the country. You swear it the queen—to the monarchy and its descendants.
She’s done this before, but it’s different this time. For so many reasons. She’s had a difficult year but this night? We cover her with laughter and love.
Next morning, I put on my running shoes and step out. I am welcomed by a cascade of yellowed leaves when I turn down my favorite country road. The birds are flocking in huge waves and their arcing flight gives my feet wings. I am thinking about citizenship…and allegiance to a Monarchy.
But the descendants? I’ve never considered this.
The grasshoppers keep overjumping and they scatter before me—sometimes landing with sticky legs on my arms, my cheek. Tired goldenrod still dips low in the meadows as I pass but the ironweed is fading. The Walnut trees are letting go of their fruit and those green balls line this narrow hollow like sentinels. A lonely cow lifts her gentle face and follows me with her eyes. She chews her cud, twitches her ear.
We are all the descendants.
After dinner, we take Lucy Mae walking and my youngest, he stays close. He knows I’ve been struggling lately, he always senses these things.
I’m sorry I’m so grumpy, I say. I just feel so mad. Because life isn’t fair and it really is true that nice guys finish last. I’m tired of being nice.
He takes my hand and his arm rubs against mine and he leans his head on my shoulder. I can feel his breath on my cheek.
And just like that I feel it disappear. All that anger lifts like a balloon into the night sky.
This is who I am.
I give my allegiance to the King. And to His descendants.
Because we are all the descendants. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to be treated like you matter. There is nothing wrong with needing to be seen—wanting to be covered with laughter and love.
This is our true citizenship. To do this for one another. To love this way. So I will keep doing it.
No matter how tired it makes me.
This week’s memory verse:
To download a memory card of James 4:8-9.
Check previous Tuesday posts for prior verses.
With my sweet friends Jen and Jennifer: