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Wishing the Pins Had All Held

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When we explore the topic of family here at High Calling Blogs—the work of family—we don’t want to limit the discussion to parenting. “Family” includes brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents, in-laws, foster parents and stepparents. And the resulting stories and comments may express delight and joy, or struggles and grief. Ann Voskamp offers soul-spilling stories in post after post at Holy Experience. A few days ago, Ann wrote of a painful struggle; how divorce in her family left behind “ripped up scraps" and "things that run through your fingers and you can never quite hold":

"Sir?" Dad calls towards the door and I reach for geraniums. "Might I ask where you live, sir?" Dad steps towards the white bearded man all in black. "Yes." The Mennonite's weathered hand strokes his beard, putting the words together first. "I live just around the corner, to the left, and if you go three farms over, we are on the north side." The man's German accent is thick. Dad smiles knowing, shakes his head that they'd meet here and I remember a summer evening and his barefoot, braided daughter and the way the horses smelled in the shaded cool of the barn and the clanking of the stanchions, the cattle all standing for milking. "Then you are Daniel Martin and a long time ago you finished my hogs." Dad offers his hand. "Bryan Morton." I see Daniel's light flicker, and how we look into eyes and back through years and all the ways time changes us. "Yes, yes!" He takes Dad's hand heartily. "A couple hundred hogs that year." Dad smiles. "And I think you and Sarah came once in the horse and buggy to our place -- for dinner." It had taken them all afternoon coming, the spokes making the slow miles. I can see Sarah's black cape on a hot July night. "I remember, I remember." Daniel's happy too, his beard and all the whitened years falling mid-chest. "And your wife?" he looks behind me and my geraniums, past Malakai pressing against my leg, listening. "Is your wife here?" "Yes......" Dad looks around, out towards the pots of tomatoes. My stomach knots tight. Dad and Mom's divorce is what -- eleven years ago now? I look away. Wish I could slip past, by, rush away. "Yes, my wife is here, Daniel." Dad nods towards Daniel Martin and Daniel Martin nods happily towards Dad and I think my lungs are collapsing. "But I don't have the same wife. I'm not married to that woman anymore." I think of Mama's white hair. And how twenty-five years can be swept away with a few words. And I want to reach for it, seize it, hold on. I see how the clouds pass over Daniel's eyes, dark shadow. "Oh." He says it slow and I hurt so bad I want to bend over, gasping for air and it's like witnessing all of where you came from just blown away in the wind and the wind is the father whom you love and I stand still, still here...

Please slip over to Ann’s blog, Holy Experience, and read “when the wind blows” in its entirety. Ann V. works with the High Calling Blogs team as a Contributing Editor, sharing encouragement and beauty—and sometimes heart-slicing pain—through her words and photography. Is there a young person in your life who's struggling to deal with family brokenness? Laura Boggess's book Brody's Story could be a helpful resource.

Photo by Ann Voskamp. Used with permission. Post by Ann Kroeker.

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