Today was organic farm church.
It was hard. Tears were shared.
The day was warm but we set the pews and the altar underneath the shade of the willow tree and a breeze kept us cool.
In fact, the breeze was occasionally so strong I had to keep a tight hold on my Bible and Book of Common Prayer. At one point during the sermon we paused and listened to the cracking of a falling tree across the road on a neighbor's property. Never heard a big thud, but the cracking noise sounded powerful and scary.
I love farm church. The geese come round to listen. The guineas are our chorus. Fairly off-key chorus, but what they lack in nice tune they make up for in exhuberant volume. The dogs curl up by the pews set out in the grass and at least one cat came to worship today.
The boys set up our worship area early this morning and I sat out with the hymnal and sang while I waited for our congregation to arrive. Familiar hymns from my childhood felt like balm to my hurting soul. Funny how I was able to sing, all alone out underneath the willow tree, but when we started church I couldn't make it through a few of our songs. Hurt too badly.
We read from Zechariah this morning. And Luke. And the Psalms. And Galatians. Muddled through the sermon. Prayed together. Shared in the great feast and then sat on the deck and shared in a little feast of Jason's venison stew, Josh and Laura's fruits and cheese and our tortillas and Terri's cucumbers. The day started out sober and sort of remained that way. It was good to be with our people who understand real living, real church and real pain. They gave me great hugs (wish my back were not so sunburned!!!). Gave the kids great loving.
This evening the kids and I went into town, listening to Philip's collection of Frank Sinatra best hits. We picked up a bag of cheeseburgers, went to the cemetery and remembered. We remembered him doing human statues with the kids. Telling his version of Batman stories. Throwing them around in the swimming pool. Taking the kids to McDonald's. Teaching the little girls the Lord's Prayer by having them walk on his back as he was laid out on the bedroom floor. Watching old history movies with the boys late at night. Reading stories to the girls way past their bedtime. Dancing with me and the girls in the kitchen at dinnertime. Laughing. So many memories. Hiking. Camping. Fireworks at Fourth of July. Butchering chickens. Him building the chicken plucker.
We spoke together about the things we miss about Philip. We all cried. We told him we miss him dearly, but we are so happy that his heart is no longer weak and his knees no longer hurt.
I know there are other good dads in the world. My dad is one of them.
But this Father's Day we are thinking about Philip and feeling a giant sized hole.
I am relieved to be almost through with this day. As I took a nap this afternoon I spent a few minutes reading the book On Grief and Grieving by Elizabeth Kubler Ross. It was comforting to read that the emotions we are experiencing are a part of the natural process of grief. I also am rereading A Two Part Invention by Madeline L'engle, a memoir of her life and marriage and the illness and death of her husband.
I tried to find a poem that would capture my feelings this weekend but couldn't. I did find the poem by Shelley that Philip memorized and recited to me in the early days of our courtship. I smiled as I thought that that poem was partly responsible for my falling in love with him and his silly romantic exhuberance and how, because of that, we have all these children and he was able to be such a great father. "Love's Philosophy." I must go milk the cow and tend the children, but maybe if I have time tomorrow I will add that poem to this post because it is such a sweet memory of a long ago time back when we were young and sweet springtime breezes blew and we dreamed of love and marriage and babies.