Something about the perfectly still leaves above me this evening. It’s a late night for the yellow dog and me. I brought her home from the pound four months ago as a therapy dog, not for me.
Not for me? No. I’m just the one who has trained her to sit, lie, stay, heel, and come. I’ve curbed her retriever enthusiasm enough that she now walks ladylike through the back door after adrenaline-pumping squirrel chases. I also taught her to greet guests at the front door politely with no jumping and romping as if they were a litter of puppies come to visit her.
I'm also the one who greets her in the morning and waits for her beneath limb and leaf, living canopy and fluttering veil.
Together we breathe in morning air fresh and night air charged.
I feel on my skin first light and night light, air breathing sleepy or panting fast in a windy chase.
Pieces of moon are framed tonight by twiggy and leafy fragments.
Yellow dog disappears in shadows on the far side of the fence.
I squint through the darkness to find her, then find the moon in the dark sky.
I’m not sure why, but my heart is responding to something. I want to know, before God and moon, what it is.
What is the empty frame inside me? I hold my breath and talk to God. Is He holding His breath too? He who is so full?
Moonlight fractions above me, quilts the lawn at my feet, and shadows stitch as night threads itself quietly and just pulls moon-glow through leaves which whisper among themselves, toss then turn till they sleep.
It’s bedtime, but I’m not ready to pull the covers up.
Something inside me is waking up.
Still as all is, the air vibrates as if it is alive.
Katydids sing burry, wings strumming and shaking out a ch-ch-ch-ch rhythm. Frogs thrum a whirring song from bulging throats and then swallow loud before starting again. I close my eyes and let the whole serenade and peace song wash over me.
A pastor once overlaid soundtracks of stars humming, trees clapping, insect song, and whale song. My youngest daughter heard it on YouTube after school. Amazed, I had wanted to listen to it myself. And I am, right now.
All is orchestra praise beneath my tree.
I fill my lungs with air and sound and stillness and vibration.
Pieces of moon fit my heart-a fragmented mural. Frames. Scenes from the past. Thoughts. Memories. Feelings.
Thing is, shadows have been stitched into a quilt fit for my soul to rest beneath. But it doesn't come easy, the rest.
Maybe soul rest has something to do with what I choose to remember. And how I choose to remember.
"I choose to remember trials as what frames light," I barely breathe the choice; but I remember how the Light of the World was framed.
Do my nerve endings remember the searing shocks of adrenaline shooting fire and jitter through my veins? Yeah, but that doesn't mean I can't choose to remember everything I can think of that's good and right, trustworthy, praiseworthy, and honest. The choice is to remember light.
Do my emotions still pound discordant and race erratic pulse in my ears before I can think straight enough to remember what the leaves sound like tonight and hear God whisper like that to me in my dark? They do, yet still I choose to remember what He has whispered, and proved.
Does a dis-eased past infect the present? It wants to, but the thing is that there is balm in Gilead and maybe this balm is nothing but the blood of Jesus shed for every reason having to do with a glory just feisty enough to outshine the shadows that frame it.
My heart beats cacophonous loud before it remembers melodious whisper. But that's changing.
It's what happens when I remember what to forget and what to remember.
It's what's happening right here behind my house and beneath the moon. I hear it, the long thrumming and rhythmic strumming. Hush, burr, and vibration.
And I will my heart to memorize this song.
“Help me, God,” I whisper low as I stand on paved patio where I hear the song- “Help me to remember what to remember and what to forget.”
His answer comes as the question falls up into the night praise—in pieces. “Remember," He says, "to count whenever and whatever trials as frames of joy." He translates for me what He's showing me right here-the way shadows frame light and night sky frames the moon's face. He continues, "Remember, count it all joy where you thought there was none-and give thanks at the remembrance of My holy name. Thanksgiving, as moonlight, reaches long across the counting.
It doesn’t come easy, this remembering-but it comes steady on, right now while moonlight and shadows spread as quilt over backyard grass and I think, If I lay down on the grass, this moon-cast quilt would cover me. I don't, but I don't need to.
I'm already covered.
Yellow dog comes and we go inside, she to her bed and I to mine and I don't know about her, but I'll fall asleep to a whisper till I wake and there will be shadows and light come morning just hanging as a quilt hung out to dry in the sun after laying over dewy grass all night.
I'll watch them flutter in the wind as if clipped to a clothesline. It’s the same quilt: light patches stitched together with shadow.
I've hung my heart out on the line before.
I've clipped it there till pain that's cried like nighttime dew dries. I let it flutter its rhythm there till damp shadows pull back and become nothing more than a stitch in time-a morning of joy, marked- and a reference for light.
Isn’t that what shadows are? Reference to light?
Wasn’t the cross a wooden frame displaying the Light of the World?
Doesn’t the cross shadow-stitch together mourning and dancing? Weeping and joy? Pain and healing? Trials and faith? Past and present? Death and life?
I’m seeing it everywhere now-the pattern. It spreads over all earth from heaven, all time from eternity, all galaxy-spun universe from the quilter’s hand.
The quilt flutters and billows over me-kind. It's kind, and is kind soul therapy for me.
The moon is kind light in darkness.
My heart hanging out to dry, sun-cast shadows, quilts, frames. Kind.
I pray the word, “Kind.” Repentant-like.
I climb beneath a quilt beside my husband.
My heart is full of kindness toward him. And repentance.
And as I fall asleep, my heart finds a frame for these things.
I choose tonight to remember the song and discover that somehow kind is shadow-stitched to joy. It comes in the morning, joy does, after light has found reference as moon light has pressed out the frame called dark night and found reference. It's therapeutic, kind. And joy, too.
It can’t be helped. Joy is the canvas and music of God’s kind heart.
I reach long across His therapeutic heart.
All of God’s heart is framed in the cross.
Light was nailed down, and the cross was shadow.
Long quilting stitches run through the past, needling and pricking through to the present.
Stitching needle. Piercing nail. Quilt. Frame. I reach for His heart. I want to cover myself in His heart as I would cover myself with a quilt given to me.
I settle here remembering to give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
I might forget tomorrow. I probably will.
But the quilt is always outside my window and beneath my tree.
And the cross has never stopped framing the Light.
And, yes, the yellow therapy dog is for me after all.
written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig
(adapted from my book PISTEUO! Connecting with God's Heart)