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Fifteen years ago this morning, humid and cloudy, Two Men and a Truck moved my belongings to my new home, a modest bungalow, ideal for its quiet and neighborly support. Outside my study window flourished an old lilac shrub; it’s still there, in full bloom, its fragrance drawing smiles from dog-walkers.

But the deepest smiles have been my own. Aside from periodic pruning and watering, I’ve contributed little toward the shrub’s survival. Winter-ice encased the buds, snowdrifts weighted the branches, and winds, like whirling dervishes, propelled its root systems into deeper articulation.

Infrequently, though, a freeze shocked the heady blossoms, and then it was over until next year—Brown and spent, they languished and nicked my grief.

With this spring’s frolicking, however, fully rounded lilac buds slowly split with tinges of pale green; then emerged clusters of lavender nubs until warmed into full petalling. It’s happened again, for the sixteenth year.

Such beauty reminds me of the Source, ever recoloring my psyche and companioning my end time that demands even more consciousness. Again, as I look out my study window, I thrill with regal blossoms sweeping the sky. I’m in good hands and always have been.

He looks ordinary, slouched on the chair in the waiting room of his neighborhood garage: sparse hairs dot his bulbous head like winter stubble; beady eyes wink from fleshy folds; buttons of his faded shirt pinch his abdomen; beefy hands twitch upon his plank-like thighs; worn trousers hide his scuffed sneakers.

Grief has shadowed him throughout life: a retired firefighter in the City of St. Louis, a husband and father, deaths of a son, a daughter, a grandson, and recently his wife to lung cancer. Companioned by numerous shaggy mutts over the years, Scott also had to be put down. Heart surgeries, related to his diabetes, have stitched more life into his old bones. He makes light of his cataracts.

Indeed, his life-lessons, like the winepress, have juiced him to a pulp. Yet he still smiles, his spirit heady with joy. In his gravelly voice lies an unmistaken lilt.

He chugs home in his rusty station wagon to savor the next moment.

His name is Earl.

Of such is the Kingdom of God!





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