(Amos 9:11-15, The Message)
I tear the room apart looking for my prayer book. I need that prayer book like I need chocolate and a good man. The bed is a mountain of papers I should have thrown away a year ago, a refuse heap of junk mail, papers, and books I should have already read. I’m getting a migraine. Again. All this for a prayer book, but I need it.
My own prayers rush out of my mouth, reduced to a hyperventilated ‘ohgodhelpmeplease’. I think of this, and it accelerates my desperation. I search for the book as if The Divine Hours will save my soul. A part of me hopes that it will. I can’t find it, and so I push out a path amid the pile on my bed, and I lie down, utterly defeated.
I close my eyes, and try not to think about the boxes I don’t have, to pack the stuff I need to throw away, to move into the house I don’t have the money to move into. I try to empty my head of everything, except for the steady pulse of the migraine. I steal breaths from my lungs, and force back the scream coiling like a serpent in my throat.
I want to go home. I don’t know where home is, but it’s not here in this place of empty purses purchased at the dollar store. It’s not this place of food stamp cards, and no health insurance. It’s not this broken down, dirty house, with dead lilies in the yard, and an eviction notice on the door. This is not my home.
Where are you God? Where the hell is your Kingdom?
I fumble for my copy of the Message, which I hadn’t seen for days. Or weeks? I don’t know what to read. One of Ken’s Star Wars calendar pages, dated July 22, 2004, bookmark a passage. I don’t remember if that’s the last date I picked up this Bible that I love so, and the thought of that twirls around my belly in a mourning dance.
Luke Skywalker has led me to the book of Amos, the last chapter. I like last chapters of the prophets. They are comfort after judgment, promise, and a prayer for those who didn’t have one, not too long before.
“But also on that Judgment Day I will Restore David’s house that has fallen to pieces. I’ll repair holes in the roof, replace the broken windows, fix it up like new. David’s people will be strong again, and seize what’s left of the enemy Edom, plus everyone else under my sovereign judgement.” God’s Decree. He will do this.” (9:11-12)
The passage begins to seep through my pores. I imagine God a handyman, dressed in His coveralls, covering all. Covering me. I smell His leather tool belt, the oil, and the sharp metal of his instruments. I watch him, patch me up, unraveling the duct tape that I’ve used while I awaited healing.
He will do this.
“Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing, fast on the heels of the other. You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once—everywhere you look, blessings! Blessings like wine pouring off the mountains and hills. I’ll make everything right again for my people Israel.” (9:13-15)
I know this promise is for Israel, but I can’t help but feel that there is some of this for me. I keep reading, and the Word strokes the screaming madwoman banging on the door of my consciousness. I hear her quiet as I read:
“They’ll rebuild their ruined cities.
They’ll plant vineyards and drink good wine.
They’ll work their gardens and eat fresh vegetables.
And I’ll plant them, plant them on their own land.
They’ll never again be uprooted from the land I’ve given them.” (9:15)
God, your God, says so.
My God. He will do this.
I watch as He changes in my vision from Handyman to my soul, to the Gardner. He is rooting me amid mountain and hill. Watering me with the red wine pouring off the mountains. It is thick as blood and sweet as love, staining my lips crimson, while He greens me in His tender hands.
I get up from my bed, moving paper and books blocking my way, stepping on discarded clothing littering my path, stumbling toward the Kingdom. I see the bright light of blessings, bursting through the walls.
I smell grapes. I feel the pinch of blessings biting at my heels. The memory of wine, still lingers on my tongue.
My daughter meets me at my bedroom door. She is holding my prayer book in her hands.