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The timbered great door stands ajar. Silence infiltrates the light brilliancing the hardwood floor with its intrusion into darkness: So unexpected, so frightening, an irritant to eyes accustomed to living within the grip of shadows.

No one seems around.

The urge to explore this new realm discomforts. A response is called for, despite peppering fears similar to nail guns securing tiles to tar-papered roofs—It’s safer to remain with the familiar, however outworn. That’s what everyone says. Yet, the light persists, the light beckons, the light warms.

How many times have I stood upon such a threshold? Let go of opportunities for growth? Settled for less rather than embracing the necessary sacrifice to forge ahead? For too many years have I chosen the half-light, but no more. My senior years are thinning, and my friends are diminishing through death and disease. Even my energies are like spend-saver salt.

The paradox of this diminishment opens me even more to the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. He is the open door to Light’s abundance. “Anyone who enters through me will be safe.” (John 10:9) This, alone, satisfies, even now.

 

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Thump! Thump! Thump! — Thump! Thump! — The basketball ricochets off the backboard resounding like scattershot onto the pavement. Still more thumping intrudes into the evening’s quiet. The basketball skitters around the rim, then swishes the net. The girl scrambles for the ball, hugs it with small hands as a smile whispers her thin lips; but not for long as she continues working the ball on the pavement, eyeing the basket overhead. Again, flatfooted, she shoots, totally engaged in the game, a game she plays with herself. Hours pass.

But this girl is special. Her flat wide face, her slanted eyes, her short neck suggest Down’s syndrome. Yet for several years, she has showed up each evening with her basketball and entered the challenge of the moment.

To the outsider, she appears impaired. Yet her singleness of focus hones her concentration upon the bouncing ball, careening off in angles, rolling out into the street, at times, under parked cars. She retrieves the ball for still another shot, her ponytail flying behind her. Indeed, she plays well. She needs no company.

A simple soul lives among us, precious in God’s sight. As we watch, we learn.

She pushes her rusty wheelbarrow under a milky sun.

Shadow of a humped crone yawns before her.

October-chills tweak her ruddy cheeks.

White hairs peak from her red scarf like kids on a holiday

She pauses.

Memories of plantings, feedings, waterings burgeon her heart.

July’s riot of reds, oranges, and whites quickens her spirit.

Ahead lie rows of her spent garden:

mums, yellowed to white,

marigolds, splayed upon the damp earth,

naked stalks of red salvia, impotent in the biting winds,

and so much more.

She stoops, slowly.

Mud-stained hands prune snaking rose branches, rip withered vines.

Tangled roots gasp, suddenly naked.

Beleaguered blossoms dangle from the lip of her wheelbarrow.

Ravens squawk.

Hours pass.

Musk steams from the riven furrows, blanketed with compost.

Again, she awaits Spring’s blush.

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