Wednesday, September 14, 2011


But it was free!
I gazed morosely out the front door window.
The pile of wood chips sat for day #2 in our front yard. Right next to the property line of the new neighbor. A huge pile. Like a mountain. A mountain of work that I was told I should not touch. There were big plans for this pile, beyond the capabilities of a mere woman. A man in a truck had driven by and offered to dump this pile on our lawn for free! And now it sat, mocking me.

After a day of biting my tongue, I asked the One who had allowed the free pile to enter our domain, "Where shall I spread the pile?"
"I will get to it today," said the One, "Please don't touch the pile."

The moon shone bright on the free pile that night.
The next day, every time I passed the front door, the free pile was grinning at me. The pile and I both knew that piles, no matter how large, tend to fade from consciousness the more days they sit there.

We all have them. Sometimes they are physical piles- laundry, dishes, papers to grade, books to read, unfinished projects of Sargent Pepper Lonely Heart Club band jackets made of duct tape that cost Mothers a pretty penny piled hopefully in the closet, homework, dust, clothes that don't fit anymore. Sometimes they are mental piles- the daily practice that has not occurred in over a week, the bookstores to call to talk into stocking a book, the political candidate credentials to read in order to make an informed vote, the volunteer opportunities lined neatly up in the back of our heads, the kindness, potential good deeds, and patience stored away that one day will be retrieved...Sometimes they are spiritual piles- the bible verses to commit to memory some day soon, the daily reading of God's word and encouragement, the daily alone time for meditation and prayer.

Risking wrath at 4:00, I went to the One who had promised the free pile would be spread after lunch.
"About that pile...the one I am not allowed to touch...I can abide by that for one more day. But after that, I don't think I will have the will power to resist anymore."
The One had the good grace to chuckle, and I noticed a few minutes later, was working on the free pile.

Brother John sent photos of his street, with the flooded homes now emerged from the water. On the front lawns were piles and piles of a lifetime of possessions. Ruined possessions.
One neighbor wrote, "I hope they take that pile away soon. I can't bear to see twenty years of my life ruined on my lawn."

I called a bookstore in the flood zone of Binghamton, the town beside my brothers. There would be no bookstores open yet in my brother's flooded town...if there were ever any bookstores to open again in my brother's flooded town.
"I am an author who lived most of my life there," I told the bookstore owner, "I was wondering if I could stock my books with you and donate a portion of the sales to the flood relief. If there are any sales...."
With my husband still unemployed, I can't do a whole lot more. Nonetheless, the book store owner was grateful and would add my book to her pile of inventory. A good pile, I hope. A pile with promise that would disappear perhaps more rapidly than our free pile steaming now like a pile of compost.

So, with the pile staring at me all day, I had piles on my mind. I have learned that God works through visual images, through symbols, not only in Biblical times, but in my life today. A word study of "piles" in the Bible is very interesting. There are basically two kinds of piles- piles of rubble and destruction from an angry fed up God, and piles of remembrance of the miraculous salvation of God. Sin, redemption. Destruction, Salvation. Rubble, Remembrance. I lay in bed this morning thinking of what kind of character I was piling up, day after day. Which kind of pile will I that people would desire to have carted away as quickly as possible, or one that would be remembered with fondness, with love? I better get working on the pile I want to be, I thought, glancing out at the free pile of wood chips in the front yard.

Leviticus 26:30-31
30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you. 31 I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the pleasing aroma of your offerings. 

Genesis 31:44-46, 48
44 Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between us.”  45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46 He said to his relatives, “Gather some stones.” So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap...
 48 Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” ... “May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. 

2 Chronicles 31:5-6

5 As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, olive oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. 6 The people of Israel and Judah who lived in the towns of Judah also brought a tithe of their herds and flocks and a tithe of the holy things dedicated to the LORD their God, and they piled them in heaps.

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