Will The Dust Praise You?


Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
As for me, I said in my prosperity,
“I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O Lord,
you made my mountain stand strong;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.
To you, O Lord, I cry,
and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
O Lord, be my helper!”
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
(Psalm 30:5-12)

There is a Reason for a Cage, and there are also reasons for a burial, I am thinking more and more. I still have a tiny body of a bird in the chest freezer downstairs, and it comes more and more to mind.  Why am I hanging on to poor Atticus for so long? That poor little bird died four years ago.  His poor little stiff self is no longer even whole anymore; when a child fetched some parbaked Parkerhouse rolls for our Thanksgiving dinner, the frail corpse fell down, and his head fell off. Clearly it is time for him to return to the ashes, to the dust, but why have I been so reluctant to bury him?

I used to joke that I’m going to clone him when the costs of that procedure are within our means; like paternity tests, they’ll have kits for sale over the internet–‘Do it Yourself Pet Cloning — As Seen on TV!’

Yes, that must be it.

Or maybe it is my latent marthastewartism that haunts me, I want to stage the most perfect pet funeral, suited to the most perfect pet. Violins, a moving eulogy, all the guests assembled for lovely reception following.
Yes, that must be it.

But the unfortunate child whose foot ended Atticus’ life has recently confided to me that seeing the frozen bird in its basket sarcophagus every time he retrieves a loaf of bread reminds him of that terrible moment. It is unloving of me to continue this cyronics experiment.  So Atticus’s stasis must be interrupted by his inevitable decay.

Thus I am prodded into action, but as is my nature, I want to know, why, why did I really delay four years? The question has haunted me.

I think Atticus represented something I wanted very badly for my life. I wanted a sweet singing in the halls of our home; ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ permeating every room, and a quality of life represented in the Classical Model of Home Education, and the Five Foot Shelf of Books.  But the reality of my life is very different from that ideal. Very often, thumping bass reverberates among our rafters when a certain prodigal returns home to eat some fatted calf. To surrender  this ideal–ah tell the truth, Karen!–it is an idol!

Giving it up is hard, but so much better  is the simple joy of welcoming unreservedly those tear-stained faces turned to mine.  It is so much better than demanding plastic faces to be pasted onto Christmas letters.  All those unreal mountains of prosperity that are never moved.

Oh, I have to be honest here –it is so hard to tell the truth still — I’m still trying to get a perfect pose at Thanksgiving dinner!   But at least now I know when to quit, so the dinner doesn’t degenerate into another Grumblegiving — our name for a Notorious Feast of Complaining. Progress, not perfection is the goal, I keep reminding myself.

I will bury that bird at last.

I cannot relate to airbrushed stories anymore. I want to hear from those who still praise Him, though it seems that He has hidden His face.  I have been loosed from  sackcloth, and I long to hear from others coming out of their graveclothes too. Because ‘Happily Ever After’ is indeed for after the grave, but how I hunger for  ‘intimations of that immortality’, of that wonderful morning of unending joy! How thrilling that thought is, how it gives  me the strength to go on in this darkness of night, as I wait for the dawn, and all the birdsong, that wakes it then. I will wait patiently for Him; I will add my hymn, and not be silent as I wait.

And you, Martha — Martha! Be still! The dust can praise Him too.

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