de(tales): love sounds like metal
Caris was one of my first internet friends. We talk about the deep and the day-to-day. Her writing challenges me frequently, but she also blows me away with the careful beauty of her wordcraft, which seems effortless. I think you'll find that to be the case with this piece. Enjoy friends.
It’s a sound. A metal sound. When you’re 10, love sounds like metal.
You’re lying in bed, upstairs in the old farmhouse. The room is covered in wallpaper probably from the 60s, and you are buried under layers and layers of blankets.
Grandma is always worried about the cold, so she piles you high with covers at night, making sure the nightlight is on. She prays with you, and even at 80, she still ends her prayers with ‘in Jesus’ precious name’, and so now often, you do, too.
And in the morning, as you see the sun streaking through the window, as it rises over the big hill in the cornfield where you go sledding, you hear the sound. It’s the sound of the square black metal grate opening the vent between the living room below and the bedroom above.
She opens it up, hollering up that the oatmeal is done. Smells and more sounds drift up. Sounds of the morning news, maybe the tv preachers from Channel 46, turned way up to reach Grandpa’s hearing aid. The clanging of the metal wood stove, as the door is opened and logs thrown in. Kitchen sounds. And the warm smell of wood heat.
You lay there snuggled under the love, your senses taking in the peace, and it will take you years to realize that what you felt in that house was safe.
You can’t know how rare it will be to experience an undercurrent of joy upon waking up. To know that the sounds below you are ones of happiness, not anger. You can’t grasp how peaceful this is, because your home hasn’t fully sunk into tensions. The eggs have been cracked, but not scrambled, the shells not yet the path for your feet to walk on. You won’t know how these memories will embed themselves into your brain, providing a baseline of what love is, what it looks like and sounds like.
And you will need that line. You will need a knowledge of peace to endure the chaos. You will need these years of visits to the farm, to let nature imprint herself on you.
You will need these wide open spaces to counteract the boxes you will be put into. You will need the hugs and the cookies and the homemade play-dough. You will need to remember what it was like to be surrounded by unconditional love.
So close your eyes and listen. Listen and count. It’s been 20 years since she died. 20 years, 5 weeks, and 4 days. And in some ways it feels like yesterday, doesn’t it? You can still hear the sliding of the grate, the tumbling of the wood, the morning news, and the call for oatmeal. Because that’s love. Safe, and forever love.
Caris is passionate about recognizing the image of God in everyone and looking for ways to disrupt her status quo. She lives as a minority in her current neighborhood, along with her husband and five kids. You can connect with her on her blog and on Twitter.
You can check out the other de(tales) (so far) here.