If my husband Albert were here, he'd say that I'll make myself crazy, thinking over events again and again, wondering what else I could have done. "You don't rule life and death," he'd say. That's Albert for you. I think men just naturally rise up from their hurts and defeats and move on. I suppose I never was good at letting go. Partly it's my personality. But partly it's my faith. I grew up expecting a lot from God. And, truth be told, this past year or so I've felt that God didn't come through as he should have. What a thing to wrestle with. How does a person get over it?

I've never considered myself a fanatic, just a serious Christian. But sometimes you come to understand a thing in a way you never have before. And it doesn't make much sense, but you know it's absolutely true. You can't prove that it's true. You can't sit people down and explain it so that they're just as convinced as you are. But the thing is truer than your own name. And when that kind of knowledge comes to you, you're responsible to accept it and believe it. It's yours-you didn't ask for it, but it's yours-and Heaven's watching to see what you do with it.

Well, I feel a revelation coming on. I think the Lord is working out an extra big pattern here. I've never felt so strange for so many days at a time, with or without fever. And I can't help but believe that before long, I'm going to wake up, and something important will have taken place. For now, I just need to pay attention.

I haven't talked with my pastor about this. I know already that he wouldn't have much to say. Preachers tend not to talk about the private part of faith-the part that's separate from sermons or Scripture or traditions. What's in the center of another person's soul is something a pastor just doesn't know. And if he can't teach it with authority, then he'll stay clear away from it. Probably just as well.

I'm on my sun porch, and the morning is quiet. The aroma of autumn has slipped into the breezes. It's rained recently, and my little town is so full and fertile that you would think it was early spring, the air green and yellow and reflecting off the late summer trees, which have not yet burst into fiery colors. The streets are so still that I can hear Don Bradley talking to his son from all the way down the block. They're deciding whether or not to chop down that big old cedar.

For just a second I imagined that I heard my old neighbors, Doris and her daughter Shellye. So many times that kitchen window has been open and I could hear Doris buttering her toast, raking a knife across it again and again, usually after she'd been up half the night walking up and down the street, trying to smoke away another nervous spell.

I feel the peace around me this morning, and I try to reason with myself. I wonder why I can't let go of my sorrows. I don't know why events that are in the past can still have such a terrible hold on me.

But one evening last week I was dusting the bookshelves of the attic bedroom, the room that was my grandmother's, and I remembered a bit of advice she gave me once. Then I went to the drugstore and bought four "blank books," as they're called now. I took them home and sat at the kitchen table and wrote my name in each one.

Some of the old folks in church still use the expression "pray it through," which means that you pray until you know what to do next or until at least you have the peace to stop praying. I have to admit, though, that sometimes a thing won't pray through. Or it won't pray through in the ordinary way. Maybe some of us pray better with pen and paper. However you pray, it hurts just as much, or it lifts your spirit just as high. I know already that the prayers I'm about to write will probably hurt more than uplift.

When my son was small he'd go through a little routine when I told him it was bedtime. He'd march around the house singing loudly, "I'm not sleepy, and sleep is bad for me. Beds are for lazy old people, and Jesus doesn't want me to be." He wasn't much of a poet, but he believed in that little song and had to sing it every night, just to make his protest. Albert and I learned to let him sing it, usually about thirty times as he roamed upstairs and downstairs and around the furniture. We'd tell him it was bedtime awhile before it really was, because we knew he'd have to do his singing first. By then he'd be yawning and running his words together, and we'd put him to bed. We didn't even get mad about the song, or at Jimmy for singing it.

I've decided that Almighty God looks at my arguments in about the same way. Lets me sputter and make excuses, then about the time I wind down he gives me the same news as before, and by then I just take what comes.

I'm feeling like marching up and down and singing a little song of my own these days. It wasn't that long ago when I especially needed to hear God, and yet God always managed to be where I wasn't. So I finally accepted his absence and did the best I could. Now I'm sitting here in my empty house with these stiff, empty journals in front of me. And I suddenly find that God is sitting in the chair opposite me, like a teacher waiting for the student to get busy. Isn't that just like life-when you're ready to go off on your own without a care, the Lord shows up, bringing impossible requirements with him.

I had no formal schooling past high school, and I know that only writers write literature, because they're gifted to do it. But stories belong to us ordinary people. I'm not even that fond of my little set of stories, particularly some of the endings. But endings aren't up to me. The stories are mine, though, and they're outgrowing me, like starter plants begging to be divided and repotted. These stories are poking out of cracks and memories and even my daily thoughts.

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