the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
nor the moon by night.”
I spoke the verse again and again, until I felt the very Presence of God covering me with His safety, speaking to my burning soul that He would be my true shade.
Is there a place of safety from the burning heat, from the searing of our souls,
that we are meant to share?
We find our friend, Jayber Crow, in such a place for this week’s portion over at Michele Morin’s site
where she has invited us to join in an online book study of Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry.
Jayber, the “bachelor barber,” has begun to see himself as a true member of the community, when World War 2 sets in. Having been denied a place of service himself, because of a medical difficulty, he yet found himself saying:
“I was learning what I had meant when I decided that I would share the fate of Port William. I had not gone off to war, but the wounds and deaths of Port William boys were happening in Port William. They were happening to me. I was involved; I was being changed.”
Berry, Wendell. Jayber Crow: A Novel (Port William) (p. 147). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition.
Jayber had begun to experience what a true community feels like: what one person walks through does overflow onto the others within that community.
As Jayber became more comfortable in his own shop, there were many nights after business was completed, that he lingered in his own barber chair (how cozy that must have been, in the days before our nice “Lazy-Boy” recliners!) finding it a comfortable spot for reading and relaxing. Often times if another lone soul was out wandering the streets, they might find themselves drawn to the cozy feeling of the empty barbershop themselves, knowing that a listening ear was waiting for them there.
In those awful years of the War, when the searing hot pain of grief became overwhelming, one father wandered in and just sat quietly. From within that peaceful setting, he shared about a dream of his lost son that had awakened a fresh pouring of grief:
“He told me this in a voice as steady and even as if it were only another day’s news, and then he said, ‘All I could do was hug him and cry.’ And then I could no longer sit in that tall chair. I had to come down. I came down and went over and sat beside Mat. If he had cried, I would have. We both could have, but we didn’t. We sat together for a long time and said not a word. After a while, though the grief did not go away from us, it grew quiet. What had seemed a storm wailing through the entire darkness seemed to come in at last and lie down.”
Berry, Wendell. Jayber Crow: A Novel (Port William) (pp. 149-150). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition.
And the tears that could not be shed by them, were shed by me. This “Shade of God’s Presence” is the one constant thing we can offer to those who dwell in community with us. We may not always have a wise word. We might not even be able to serve or help in the way that we wish we could.
But our Lord
Who offers us the True Shade
Of His Presence
Asks us to extend that Shade
To invite others in
Who are burning
in pain and grief.
We can sit with each other
That our restless souls
Only find rest in HIM.
Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry, can be found at Amazon,
by clicking here.