This Humble Place

Sometimes when I wake in the dawning morning and hear the lonely call of a bird through the window, my heart is carried away to another corner of the world. In this humble place, I cannot hear the hum of a fridge or the clinking of a radiator; I hear only the black bird hidden among an oak’s branches, my husband’s breathing, my baby’s occasional grunt. 

When I rise from bed, I find embers yet glowing in the woodstove, the lingering remains of the hand-cut logs that gave their all to warm us in the night. I throw in a few more logs, kindle a new fire for a new day, and set a kettle on top. Wrapped in a shawl, seated at the kitchen table with my Bible and a cup waiting to be filled, I tilt my ear again to the bird’s cry. A moment later it is joined by the lowing of our cow; she is out in the dewy pasture, pressing at the gate, eager to fill herself with oats while her bag is emptied. I cannot see them from here, but I can picture the chickens nestled in their boxes, pushing out the day’s first batch of brown eggs. Our dog is likely ensconced on the porch, her head resting on her forepaws, her gaze steady, her body motionless, her ears perked as she awaits the click of the door handle.

Tiny flowers glisten in the pasture. All is green, as green as it will ever be. The dirt is dark and soft with yesterday’s rain; helpless worms draw robins to the cobblestone pathway circling our house. The forest is fragrant (I smell pine wafting through the window), yet shadowy and still at this hour—but if I keep my eye on the tree-line, I may soon see a rabbit crawl out into the mellow sunlight breaking over the lawn.

As much as I love a day spent out working on the farm, I always look forward to cozying up inside with my family in the evening, sharing a homegrown meal, playing a board-game by firelight, sipping tea, rocking my baby. The only darkness we know in this place is of the night, not of the world, for here we’ve chosen the goodness of God’s creation—in nature and in each other. And even then, the darkness is spangled with the brightest starlight.

And silence—here we know the silence of God’s presence. Our heads are not swarming with the world’s cries, and thus God has found space to come to us. He need not use words, for His very presence is enough, like a lover’s touch. Indeed, my husband and I are closer in this silence, entering deeper into the language of love, into wordless communion.

Our baby will not know the sleek black screen that can blink alive with mesmerizing colors and sounds. But she will know the rainbow of garden vegetables, the trickle of a creek, the rooster’s plumage, the wind rattling the cattails, the blue sky unbroken by skyscraper or smog. She will know creamy milk fresh from the cow, grass on her bare feet, acorns and crabapples spilling from her pockets, a crackling fire, dandelions in her hair and on the windowsill. She will know a world that is more vibrant, more musical, more sweet, than anything she might have seen but could never have. In this humble place, life is real.

Ah, but as I write this, I am struck by the irony that this dream is not real. But I can hope, I suppose, that one day it will be, if not in full then in part.

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