The sun shone today. After a week of rain, wind, and gloom, the sun shone and warmed the earth.
I sat in my easy chair most of the day. Finally, about half an hour before the sun dropped from the western sky, I moved.
“I’m going to take a walk.”
I expected her to say, “About time, too!” She didn’t. A simple, “Be careful,” was all I heard as I headed out the door for a three-mile walk.
About time, too. It is what she should have said. What kind of bonehead sits inside on a sixty-degree sunlit day in early January?
I wrote the words for any foolish enough to read them on New Year’s Day.
“I will walk. Into the new year, I’ll walk.”
I said it, knowing there were sorrows still to come; certain that a day wouldn’t make the old sadness disappear. And yet, when it came down to it, and the first steps into the new year were little different than the last out of the old one, my feet faltered. Time spent with a loved one in the hospital did little to encourage my spirit.
And the sun wouldn’t shine. So, I waited. It would be better to wait, wouldn’t it? When the sun shines, I’ll walk. Let the clouds pass first. The wind blows so cold. It wouldn’t do to get sick, would it?
You’ll see. When the sun shines — I’ll walk then.
Some things, you just need to do while the sun shines. I’m sure of it. The red-headed lady who raised me taught me that. Make hay while the sun shines. She said it again and again.
She wasn’t wrong. Hay put into bales on a rainy day is guaranteed to rot in the barn. You absolutely have to have sunshine to make hay.
But, living isn’t making hay. Life happens in the sunshine and in the shadow. We journey through whatever circumstance comes. To sit and mope is to admit failure.
Today, I walked. In more ways than one, I walked, forcing myself out of my dreary retreat and into the sunshine. Even as I walked the trail along the beautiful little creek, the light faded and the sun dropped behind the hills to the west.
I want to keep walking. I want to remember that, even in the shadows, the road awaits. And, our Father knows we sometimes need some help remembering.
After we ate, I told the Lovely Lady I needed to write. I don’t remember what it was I thought I needed to say, but I trudged up the stairs to my little writing room anyway. Before I had a chance to write it, I sent a response to a friend who had been kind enough to share a song with me today. She does that on occasion, gracing friends with music that moves her. I was moved myself and wanted to thank her.
I wrote only a short note, telling her I hoped she was doing well. I’m not sure what I expected. I suppose I expected the shadows to come again if she replied honestly. My friend is in the middle of a fight with cancer. The outcome is not certain for her.
She replied honestly.
The voice message that arrived within moments was nothing like what I expected. In a matter-of-fact manner, she told me of upcoming appointments with the cancer specialists at one of the top cancer hospitals in the country. She doesn’t know what will happen.
But then, with laughter and joy in her voice, she said the most surprising thing: “I made bread today. Paul, I made homemade bread!” Telling me about the neighbors’ response to the aroma filling the air, her message ended with joy. Pure joy.
Where are the shadows I expected? And, why am I suddenly thinking about the red-headed lady who raised me again?
It is one of my happiest memories of my mother. It didn’t happen often, but I remember the feeling as if it were yesterday.
“Today,” she said, “Today, we make bread.”
And, we did. Well, she did. She made the bread; we ate it. But before that — before that — the delightful aroma of
homemade bread filled the house. To this day, I cannot smell bread baking without thinking of those mornings in South Texas — always mornings (with no air conditioning, it was too hot to do it in the afternoon) — when, for a few minutes, we were the richest kids in town.
It was the most basic item in the diet for our predecessors, and therefore, baking it was the most common of activities for those who laid food on the tables. When strangers came, they broke bread. Dad came home from his job and the breadwinner was in the house. We knew which side our bread was buttered on. The upper crust had it easy.
She was the one who told us to make hay while the sun was shining, but as I remember it, the sun always shone when she made bread.
I’m sure it wasn’t true. Storms were a way of life for us. With five children in the house, what else would one expect? But such a simple thing could drive all thought of unhappy events from our heads as we gobbled up those spectacular homemade rolls, not even waiting to spread a knife full of margarine on them.
I wipe the crumbs from the edges of my mouth mentally, my mind returning to my friend and the amazing lesson I am learning.
When the sun refuses to shine on us, we do the foundational things, the things that sustain, the things that bring joy. For us, and for those we love.
I think it’s no coincidence that Jesus, when he taught His disciples to pray, included the request that our Heavenly Father would give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)
I have another friend who each day posts either that entire prayer or a phrase from it on social media, for her friends to read and to be encouraged. It was less than a year ago that her daughter suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Yet, every day, she encourages her friends to be fed by that daily bread from heaven. Every day.
In the darkness, the light shines. It will not be extinguished. (John 1:5)
I worry. I do. About the future, I worry. About those I love, I worry. I sit in the dark and mull over what might happen.
He says to leave tomorrow alone. Today, we have bread. From His ovens, from His own hand, we have bread.
Can you smell it?
If you have extraordinary bread and extraordinary butter, it’s hard to beat bread and butter.
(Jacques Pepin ~ French-born American chef)
The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
(John 6:33,34 ~ NLT ~ Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.)