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Paying It Forward

Someone gave us a box of food recently, maybe $100 worth! My reaction, big eyes. My thought was something like What?! “No big reason,” the man said. “Just wanted to do something to repay a debt, so I’m paying-it-forward. That’s what I was told to do. Thought extra food might make things a little easier around your house….You are having lots of company. ” Oh. I guess this is what they mean when they say, “We drink from wells we did not dig.” I guess we will eat from a pantry we did not totally fill. My husband is like me. He expects callouses when he works. I expect tiredness. We don’t expect anyone to just take care of a bill or pay for extra groceries. Stunned. I was stunned. Hard to take i

A Pleasure to Run into Lee Farrier

After church we look up at the sky—clouds, brewing overhead. A quick decision. We’ll go to the Dollar Store, less than 10 miles away. A little food at home, but the last remnant of Hurricane Barry is coming our way. While driving through the mountains—too steep for habitat—my husband suggests we just stop and eat at the Norfork Café, then go to the store. I translate that into “no cooking required.” I’ll take it. At the café we still check the windows to monitor the clouds, rolling and ominous. We do the easy thing and order the Sunday Special from the menu board. As we finish eating, a man seated behind us recognizes me as the poet who wrote a poem about his aunt. He turns to face us, and w

The Mind, a Remarkable Thing

“What?!” I didn’t say it in panic. More like astonishment. When my husband and I were talking, he reminded me that some of my high school students were now in their sixties, that some were even seventyish. (I started teaching high school juniors in Arkadelphia, AR, when I was 21.) I set my cup of tea on the counter and looked at my husband. Not possible. “Are you sure?” I asked. “Well, you were 21, they were 17. You are now 75, so those you taught that first year would be 70 or 71.” He smiled. “Just Monticello math,” he chirped. I may have held my breath. Astonishing. I continued scrambling the eggs, but those facts had not yet sunk in. “You know, that makes me sad. My students of the 60s an

Giving Up Coffee

If the clouds, moon, stars can float, then maybe I can give up coffee. Today, my fourth day without it. Immediately upon awakening, I realize I have no withdrawal symptoms—no aching, no headache, no nausea. Once before, on a whim, I gave up coffee, but it didn’t last long—maybe three weeks. One of the quiet good times my husband and I share is getting up early enough to drink a cup of coffee together before breakfast, before the day starts stirring, before the first chore. It’s just a sweet time for us. Maybe it’s that sweetness I don’t want to give up. This time, an ENT doctor told me I needed to give it up to keep my throat healthy. If prayers can fly through my roof about the sick people

Don’t Believe It

If anyone promises you that you won’t lose things or mess up if you are extra careful, don’t believe it. I watch as Alex, a visiting 14-year-old grandson, tramps back and forth, up and down the stairs, searching for his wallet where he carries his folded, paper-permit to drive. He’s already checked the van and gone back to the church to see if it fell out of his pocket on a sofa. Nothing. He doesn’t care about the money or wallet. He wants his permit to drive. He wants a miracle. I tell him to pray if it’s important. He says, “I’ve already done that.” A whippoorwill begins taunting us with Whippoorwill! Whippoorwill! It’s as if the bird is saying, “You’ll never find it! You’ll never find it!

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