Billy, my stepfather-in-law, died last month after a nine-month battle with cancer. During our subsequent four-day visit to Nashville and Columbia, Tennessee, Betty asked me to preach at the funeral, something I haven’t done before. Here’s what I said. Who can sum up a man’s life? The finest eulogies diminish the dead. I can’t say what [...]
in which God gets my attention through textual insight. I love taking photographs just before or after early- or late-day sunshowers: the rich, angled light hits its subjects full in the face, and the sky is a dramatically dark backdrop. The devil is beating his wife, in fact, just now – the sun and its [...]
On my first visit home after William died, a storm shook brittle branches and brown needles from my parents’ longleaf pines for my father to pick up and rake. My father’s ’68 Continental, no longer subject to falling branches thanks to a tree removal he had ordered, was still in the driveway with one side of its black convertible top still sagging. But the feeling about the large, old subdivision lot was different, and after the storm I walked the place to look closer. Songbirds chirped with impunity and thought nothing of hopping on the grass. My shoes sank into the sandy, Tidewater soil beneath the lawn, now undermined by moles. And, for the first time in sixteen years (as far back as my memory served), there were cats.
in which Bethany chooses a college. In early April, after the college acceptance packages had come in, Victoria asked Bethany, “Which way are you leaning?” Bethany wasn’t completely sure yet – she wanted to visit the schools again – but she was pretty sure she wanted to go to the art college. The liberal arts [...]
We used the pines other ways. We raked their needles for flowerbeds. We broke off their bark for sidewalk chalk. We threw their cones at one another. We knocked off their branches punting footballs. The pines took all of our noise and heat and memory and channeled it up, diffusing it through their needles. They also absorbed the resulting lightning strikes, channeling the sky’s heat the other way. Never a scream, never a word though entire childhoods.