- After the scrumptious meal
- After the company leaves
- After the last note sounds
- After the riveting movie
- After the compelling book
- After the lights go down
Our hearts and senses are left to fend for themselves. To remember, but not with our minds exactly, more with our spirits. We no longer have the crutch of words or explanations or analysis. We can no longer touch or taste or see or hear. But we still feel. Something remains.
What is that?
It’s real because it returns. When circumstances bring it back to mind. It is like the last time – like before, like the other. We compare it to something we know but could never display. A thought, a memory, a sensation, a feeling. These have not gone; they are still with us. Undeniably present and called upon by the moment’s experience.
My pastor speaks of the blessings of God for which we tremble. I repeat the word over and over as I was taught to sing it, in a choir loft long ago. Rolling the last consonants, as if they were bumping together, quaking, quivering, rattling, rumbling, settling. The dictionary is far, far away. I stand two rows up, eyes fixed on a makeshift manger to which we sing. I have imagined the baby Jesus. We…tremble…
Why would Jesus come as a helpless baby? Crying, cooing, needing, cold, trembling…
I glimpse a young woman from a wasteland who is isolated, devastated, alone, being held by the man who has stood by her. He can comfort and support but not rescue her. This is a present day and not just long ago story. It still resonates. Perhaps because it speaks to a place deeper than words. Where, trembling against all odds, we discover that what is in us can save us.
What’s left? After you’re gone, after you leave, after you go home…everything you gave away during the time you were there. If you stunk, the stench stays behind. But if you were gracious, it’s the fragrance that remains.
We gathered to remember our friend Callista who died much too young and shared stories and lore of days gone by. Memories are some of what remains. Feelings are some of what remains. But those things fade. Hate to admit that, but I know it’s true.
When I returned from the funeral I looked at the tea towel I had magnet-clipped to my refrigerator. On it is a recipe for citrus fruit tarts. Callista gave me this. But not just me. She had decorated dozens of tea towels with different recipes so we could choose a party favor to take home from the ladies tea she hosted last summer.
I chose this one. Made the recipe this winter and invited neighbors to enjoy the fruits of my labor on the day of the “big snow that wasn’t.” It’s really a summer recipe, but I had just gotten news of Callista’s significant illness. She hadn’t been able to host her usual New Year’s brunch this year, and now I knew why. So this was a tribute of sorts. A thanks, really. And it inspired me to invite friends over, just like she was so good at doing.
Now, I look at it on my refrigerator. Callista is gone. And what is left? Besides memories and feelings there is this. What she gave away.
I expect that heap, the one made of things given away, is what we stand on when we stand before the Lord on entering eternity. And somehow, in a way only God knows, that podium hovers on the unseen gifts. The blessings beyond what we’ve given. The reverberations of love we can’t see but He can.