Saturday, November 10, 2012

Joy and Woe Are Woven Fine

"Mind if I smoke?" he asks, settling onto the bench beside me. I love the smell of a freshly-lit cigarette and tell him no before considering: I'm extremely pregnant, and the wind is whipping. I'm a little cool, anyway, and it crosses my mind to wait inside, but I want neither to give up my seat nor to come across as rude.

"What are you waiting for?" he asks.

"My husband. And a baby; we're having a baby tomorrow."

"Your first?"


He says his mother didn't live long enough to have more than one, that she died when he was six, and when I ask if his dad raised him, he says: "No. They put him in the ground same day as my mother."

"Car accident?" I ask.

"No," he says, but he offers no more, and I realize I don't want to know. He talks about having a daughter (he guesses she's his) whom he hasn't seen since he asked her why she came around only for money, and he talks about having a girlfriend. He's here, in fact, because the girlfriend is in the hospital. "She wants to get married," he says, "but I'm not gonna do that. Too old to have kids: what's the point?"

I shrug. "Maybe it's about her integrity before the Lord," I offer.

He raises an eyebrow. "That is a possibility," he concedes. "She's a church lady."

"Are you a church man?"

"Not anymore," he says. "Got hurt. Gave it up." I start to respond but hesitate. "Go ahead," he encourages. "I want to hear what you have to say."

I feel tested and squirm, a little, on the bench. "I was just going to say: every stitch of peace I have is in the Lord." Everything I haven't said forms that old, familiar lump in my throat, and--when I look up at him--I'm crying.

So is he.

"I know the Father," he says. "I know Him well. He has given me wisdom. I can see the world in a grain of sand."

I consider the purple of his irises, the dark cheeks wet with his tears, the white hair springing from his temples. I believe him. We reach for one another, and strangers (73 and 38, male and female, black and white) collide and embrace on a bench just past the doors of a hospital.

Later, I realize I never smelled the cigarette he smoked beside me, on a windy day, in its entirety.

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit (John 3:8, KJV).

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2, KJV).


  1. This. Was the most AMAZING thing ever.
    I can't even tell you how much I loved this post.

  2. Brandee, the Lord uses you...keep listening to His small still voice ( I think someone just told me this not too long ago) Smile that is what I am doing.

  3. Okay, Brandee. Wow. I cried. Covered my mouth while goosebumps covered my shoulders. I just want to say I love the story you just told, I love the way you told it, and I love you!

  4. Beautiful! I just love God-moments like that...they totally prostrate me!

  5. Spectacular story-telling, Brandee. And such a heart you have!! Thank you for this loveliness this early Sunday morning. Praying you are feeling better and better and that Chip is doing well.

  6. This is a heart-stopper ... wonderfully told.

  7. Beautiful. I want to be a writer like you're a writer-- and bring the spirit of the LORD down to us just a little bit more.

  8. smiles...wonderful story telling...and it made me wer there for a reason and you siezed it...touched a life...and god was watching out for you on the smoke...smiles.

  9. I love this...thank you for sharing such a meaningful interaction among strangers. Outside the hospital.

  10. Oh Brandee. You told this story so beautifully. Thank you for showing me how you share your faith. I will treasure this story and read it over and over.

  11. Brandee... wow. How you touch me with your boldness and charity.

  12. Brandee! I'm crying here. This is. the. most beautiful. thing. Thank you. Thank you. Oh, how you look like your Daddy.

  13. This is insanely good. What else can I say? I'm touched deeply. Linking from my sidebar. I love you. ...

  14. And YOU are one of the reasons why I write: because God allows me to rub elbows in the midst of His glorious mundane with others who hear Him and see Him all around. Wow...I am so blessed by hearing of your encounter. Be well.

    Lorretta at Dancing on the Dash

  15. Oh my lady, you are such a gifted writer.

    Absolutely moving.

    Wishing you much joy and peace in this time ahead with your newest blessing.

  16. This is beautiful. Sorry I haven't had time to read your blog more often. I facebooked this. Blessings, Dottie

  17. This is such a lovely story. So well told! Thanks for visiting my blog and giving me the chance to know about your story. Blessings with your new little one.

  18. ANOTHER CONTEST WINNER!! love you and the vividness of this...don't know how i missed it in 2012 except that I was in a bad, joyless place with my own personal "yuck"...glad i read it now