Steadying Himself Upon a Phrase

Posted: February 6, 2014 in family, god
Tags: , , , , ,

I glanced down at the end table next to his soft chair which sat under a light in the corner. He picked up his magnifying glass from the top of the end table. I noticed a black cylinder lying there.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“That’s my light,” he said. “I use it to see the clock,” and he pointed to the wall clock across the room.

With his magnifying glass he was now going through a stack of three by five note cards.

“Here it is,” he said, and handed me a laminated card. On it was written a quote, in his crabbed penmanship that I knew so well. He had given me cards like this when I was little, with verses penned on them, to memorize.

I kept them for years, until my car was stolen. The cards were in the glovebox.

I looked over at him; he wobbled just a bit, and then steadied himself by reaching out and touching the back of the chair. I glanced again at the end table. He had told me just this morning that he usually got up about 4 am, sat in this chair, went through his cards, mulling them over, memorizing the quotations written on them.

I could easily imagine him there with the dark all around him, sitting under his one light, his magnifying glass in one hand, his notecards in the other, peering into the words he had copied down, trying to take something from them.

This corner, this devotional bay, this small end table, the black satellite radio there on it, the stack of books, the cards, pens, notebooks, flashlight — this was his holy alcove, these his sainted relics, and he himself the living statuary within it.

I looked down at the card and read it.

“Lord, before the mystery of your dying I am silent dumb, I do not know what to say or do. All I can do is adore silently, without words, without even emotion. And yet Lord, I want to understand more deeply and love more fully. But somehow I am empty and drained of feeling. Accept then my dumb adoration and silent offering of my self for this is all I have to give.”

I looked back up to him.

There he was, my father — eighty-six years old, stricken with the shingles, missing his natural teeth, in need of a new pacemaker, tottering on the edge of the end, drained almost to the last dumb drop but doing what he has always done when he has been silent before the divine — he was reaching out and steadying himself upon a phrase.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Sweet and lovely tributes to your mom and dad. Thoughts to gentle me as I tend my own tiny mother.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great job bro—about to get tears in my eyes…really fine reflections and as you well know we are sooooo blessed by our heritage.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s