the knock at the door
oh, no. it wasn’t that knock at the door. the kind that has your heart in your throat, your middle-of-the-chest muscle galloping like some sort of a horse making tracks out of the pasture.
this was the humdrum, there-you-are-trying-to-return-to-the-business-at-hand, the-business-of-living-your-life, shoving-your-worries-aside. it was that sort of a tap-tap-tap at the door.
truth was, before you heard the tappety-tap, you weren’t really doing such a fine job of pretending. pretending all in your life was just fine, peachy, swell, pick your positive adjective.
oh, no, but you were duly going through the motions. typing your sentences. looking up spellings. heck, you even remembered to call for the oven repairman.
ahh, but your friends are the smart sort. they know trouble when they smell it. they know the days when you should not be alone.
so they come a-callin’. they come, uninvited but thoroughly oh-my-gosh so very welcome.
they tap-tap at the glass. you drop what you’re doing, or pretending you’re doing. and you hop, skip and leap to the door.
there, in her golden-haired beauty, for instance, is one of your friends who you think is an angel. and you mean a real one. not a nice person masquerading as angel. but a real, certifiable, straight-from-the-cumulus-clouds sort of angel. her driver’s license probably has clues. like maybe her birthdate is all zeroes. hmm. that would certainly suggest otherworldliness.
so anyway, there she is. standing there, beaming. she has come with a trail from her garden. at first you don’t see the abundance. at first you see only one beautiful vase. a blue-and-white porcelain cup spilling with snapdragons, the last from her garden, she tells you. and as you are busy sticking your nose in the posies, she pivots and swoops to the ground.
there you see, a whole parade of posies in a charming collection of vases. there are soda bottles from which zinnias emerge, like red-and-white painted antennae. and a fat squat pitcher of zinnias in every imaginable color.
you stand there melting, you do. because this friend of yours has gone to the trouble of clearing her garden, scrounging up portable watering holes, and steered miles and miles out of her way. just because she smelled trouble. and she would not leave you to suffer alone.
now, depending on the day, suffering for all of us can come in 101 forms. it might be a child we’re losing sleep over. it might be a friend down the block who’s acting bizarrely. it might be some faraway drama that’s churning our tummy. it might just be that we’ve a touch of the flu.
and then, if we’re blessed–mightily, wholly, supremely blessed–we’ve a whole army of warriors who do not leave us alone, writhing out on the battlefield.
they come, like the cavalry, to our rescue. they are there at the door with their pluckings, their stews in a pot. they are on the telephone, checking in, offering wisdom. they send prayers, strong ones. the ones that leave smoke in their trail.
but the point is, no matter the solace, they’ve not left us to wither. they offer their hearts, considerable acreage there, let me tell you. they offer their intellectual muscle.
i’m just saying that on the days when you’ve reached the end of your rope. on the days when you think you are through. finished. kaput. that’s when God sends in the troops.
that’s when in the form of a red-and-white zinnia, now poking its nose in the air beside this here computer, someone divine comes in to prop up your parts that are drooping.
that’s when, in the soup that you spoon in your tummy, you are stocked not just with vitamins but the stuff of a friendship that some days feels like the difference between living and dying.
it’s not easy, not in these action-packed days, for anyone to shove aside errands, redirect routes from point A to point F. but even–especially–in a world where so very much is so very virtual, there are some sounds that still speak to our heart in ways we’ll never forget.
the sound of a rap at the door is one of the loudest there’ll ever be.
it’s the sound, so help me God, of the Divine One making a housecall.
may you all be so blessed, and i know that you are, to have a friend ride to your rescue. the mission needn’t be fancy. sometimes all it takes is a hug and the tears and the laughter that come, there on the stoop, or pulled up to the kitchen counter. this world here at pull up a chair, we are all about circling the wagons. taking the time. extending the hand. reminding each and every sometimes-aching, broken one of us: we can’t do this alone. we’re in it together. there are humps and bumps in the road. and God gave us two legs, so when one is limping, we could lean on the other. same thing with our hearts. only with hearts, we need to borrow from friends….
tell a story, if you care to, of a knock that came to your door when you needed it most, or only a little…
and even though she’s not here anymore, happy birthday to great grandma syl, the best adopted grandma a girl ever had. she once brought me a brisket in a suitcase from florida, just so she could teach me how to really feed her no. 1 grandson, the boy who’d become my no. 1 mate.