Tender Hearted

Pierre Fontenot Thursday, June 22, 2017 Comments Off on Tender Hearted
Tender Hearted

I bought a little patch of the planet. I grew up country, tried Far Away and Big City, but some part of me Got Claimed by the rural of my childhood, and I’ve been longing for wide open and elbow room for many years.

It wasn’t quite Joshua and the Israelites crossing the River Jordan, but verily I say unto thee, it came to be, that something lost is now found, 17 acres, an old barn, little ponds, oak, pine and cypress trees, old metal junk and leaning fence posts, poison ivy and country squirrels, a little house with a porch, where I could watch lizards and listen to frogs and mockingbirds, drift to nap and return from nap, a front row seat to nature, country style.

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One Must Have A Foundation

I entered adulthood full of undeserved confidence.  Turns out that I needed more foundation, which meant I had to fall through false floors to reach a real one. I fell, and kept, and it lasted. It was a naked time.

I could not, for time upon time, see it for what it was, my make ready place. I learned to write down there. I learned to listen to myself down there. God and I got acquainted down there.

Anybody that tells you that one day you’re down and the next day you’re back is either lying or never has been down.  The return, the climb, it’s so incremental. Once someone who wouldn’t expend the energy to pick up a fallen penny, I found myself pedestrian, appreciating a pennies worth of heart, hugs, and hope.

The return is a second childhood, without the playing. It’s not that you get to reinvent yourself…it’s that you actually get to finally find out who you really are.

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As It Is Written So Shall It Be Done

The paper signing was done before 2. I was porch sitting and coffee drinking by 3.

I’ll spend a lot of time on that porch. Sitting there, watching a mockingbird, I remembered me a long time ago, during the down time, driving up to a Walmart to apply for a job. I saw this guy pushing shopping carts back into the store, and I thought, ‘I can do that.’  That’s who I thought I was.

Though they never hired me I turned out to be That guy, the one who will do anything, who will be first to work and last to leave, who’ll work for free, for the hunger of learning, who will live on bologna sandwiches and faucet water, and doing without, without, without…

And that guy is this guy…the me that led to me, sitting on a porch that is too recently mine to feel like mine, trying to find adjectives…

I was Mr. Humble. I’d try to think a thought, but I kept saying “Father,” with the capital F. Thank You, Father, I said it over and over and over and over…

I felt grace. Not my goodness, but His…

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The Woman At The Redlight

There is a homeless woman that I regularly see at the corner of Kirkman and Prien Lake Road. She has a neat stack of her worldly possessions, stored under the roof of the bus stop.

I’ve given her money, because she doesn’t ask. Sometimes she’ll be standing under an oak tree in the parking lot behind the bus stop. I’ve caught her asleep, in that awkward posture of someone sleeping in a chair.

I saw her the morning after my special day.

There’s a part of me, the Humpty Dumpty part, the part I’ll never forget, that knows how thin the line, between own and all alone. I didn’t feel better than her. I felt tender hearted.

I make a turn and loop around.  I wave her to my window.  “What’s your name?” I ask.  She seems shocked that anyone would ask.  I know the feeling.  It’s invisibility.

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The Men With The Wood

An hour later, two guys in a barely legal truck came to sell me wood.  Their lives are day by day, and dollar by dollar.  Both lost their wives, one to breast cancer, one to lupus.  They’re on the no money end of America.

They have their story. Lost days. It isn’t easy for a black man to tell a white man about crying, but he does, and I believe him. The other says that other women are trying to make sweet with him, but he just wants some healing time. I get that.

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Gratefulness Makes Good Company

Buying this patch of land in the sticks is symbolic for me. Before my bad times I’d have just thought of this as something I deserved, and missed the best part of it, that it was just grace, yet again, for the yet again-ness of only-God-knows-how-many agains…

I feel so much healthier inside. Gratefulness is such good company.

At the new place I prayed. I wonder how whateverIfeel measures to Him. What temperature is my thankfulness?

I felt grateful for yesterday, felt tender for the homeless lady at the bus stop, felt tender again, for the two men who’d lost their wives, and then, as if I needed more…

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Here They Are

Our last customers of the day were a group of men with severe disabilities from some local group home. Whites, blacks, from 30 to 50, children with whiskers, accompanied by a young black woman in her 20’s, out to buy gifts for their mothers.

A black guy in the group smiles at me, like a child, doesn’t know me at all, but reaches out and hugs me like we’re old family. One has Down Syndrome, others seem more verbal, but they stay together like a little flock around the young lady. She is impressive. One of them, fifteen years older than she is, calls her Mom. She oohs with them over anything that they ooh over. She keeps reinforcing that maybe their mother “might like this” with inexpensive trinkets.

It felt so white-as-snow to just give them little things, and to tell her that I appreciated what she did, and that she was good at it.

Part of aging is the fear of the wick getting low in the candle, but part of the pleasure is realizing that you’re finally somebody who’s qualified for the moments.

Blessed be the Lord, the Maker of it all, the meaning of meaning, working things out in His curiously not-how-I’d-do-it way.

I count it grace that life put me in the oven.  Feeling tender hearted took some cooking.

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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is brought to you by Eighty-one, where we hope you trust that if you tell God “Thy will be done,” He will take that seriously…and it will be better than your will being done…

Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories can be found on the Eighty-one Facebook page.  He can be reached at 81creativity@gmail.com.

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