Friday, May 6, 2016

The Hand of God

Kristy Robinson Horine is a Kentucky writer: journalist by trade, creative by heart. She makes her life in Paris with her husband, Eric, and four children – Hanson, Anna, Emy, and Sadie. Her professional and creative work has been published in newspapers, magazines and anthologies in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

The piece that follows was written by Kristy for the edification of the writers in the 3rd Letter Writers, a Christian group that meets at Northeast Christian Church in Lexington, KY every 3rd Thursday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Address: 990 Star Shoot Parkway, Lexington, KY 40509

Main Street Bounty
I don’t start to cringe until the third time she tells me.

“That girl of yours is all growed up,” she says. “It’s hard to believe how growed up she is. Almost didn’t know her face. What do you think about that?”

“She sure has grown,” I say as I shake my head in a gesture I hope looks like sympathetic disbelief.

I wait for the next sentence and I know it will be about the pastor search, about how much she likes this interim pastor man whose name she can’t quite put at the front of her brain.

Then, again, she’ll tell me that girl of mine is all growed up.

I don’t cringe because of the grammar.

I’ve known Miss Aleen for years. Her speech is just a part of who she is. It never bothered me when she taught my children oh-so-long-ago in Sunday School. It doesn’t bother me now, at this all-women fellowship. Even though I don’t attend their church any longer, I’ve followed Miss Aleen’s decline through a series of prayer requests from my mom.

What makes me cringe is the evidence of decline. 

It’s that repetition that I remember from my Meme and Great-Grandma Ledford.

It’s the moment of lucidity and panic in her eyes as she realizes she’s repeated her words.

It’s the fading of lucidity and panic into the comfortable over and over and over again.

And, still, I sit and I wait for the cycle again because that’s what writers sometimes do.

We wait.

And, we listen.

And, sometimes, we see the hand of God.

This is not how the day began. I was full of a grudge. It mostly had to do with the fact that I did something that I didn’t want to do because it was that something that was good and right and it would make my husband happy.

Normally, I like making my husband happy. It means I don’t feel guilty. The air is clearer at home. I don’t have to do extra sweet things to make up for my orneriness.

But that morning, I just didn’t want to. Dad-gum-it!

Eric’s company has an annual health fair. Employees and spouses go through different stations where healthy people check - and record - our weight and height and figure up those initials I am convinced are from Satan: the BMI.

Another station takes and records blood pressure. (It’s right after the weigh station. I reckon they want as close to real-life diastolic and systolic as they possibly can get, since they don’t have a separate room where we interact with our teenage children …)

Yet another station stabs a finger, squeezes blood onto a strip and - Presto! - instant numbers that indicate internal processes.

The final station sits us down with another healthy person who explains our numbers and gives us brightly colored papers with tips on how to be better with our numbers.

I had already planned on going to the one in Paris at the end of the month because I figured I could probably lose a few ounces by then. But Eric wanted me to go to the one at his office in Lexington. At the beginning of the month. That morning.

So I went, but I made sure pretty much everyone in the house knew of my displeasure. I didn’t want to drive to Lexington. It makes my palms sweat. I didn’t want to park in Lexington. It makes my palms sweat-ier. I didn’t want to weigh in earlier than I had anticipated. It makes me want to purchase gray sweat pants and think bad thoughts about really skinny people. I didn’t want to be so close to him because we could compare our internal processes numbers and my insides might fall short somehow and then I would feel all broken, unworthy, unlovable. (Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is fall-out from another-lifetime-abuse, even in a Christian’s mind).

All I really wanted was coffee.

Accurate internal process numbers required fasting. From coffee.

We stood in line to go through the stations for about an hour and a half.

An hour and a half.

With a toddler.

On no coffee.

That’s just not nice.

But it was a good and right thing because after the health fair we got free toothbrushes and a weird square of something edible and a mini bottle of water where the plastic crinkled when we drank it. And it was a good and right thing because we saved money on our health insurance by going. And it was a good and right thing because Eric got to show his coworkers how much his sweet and only Sadie had grown. 

Psalm 13: 5-6 says:

“But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me.”


After the health fair, we trekked upstairs. We were on a mission to visit Jane.

Jane is a cancer survivor. She wears denim skirts or dresses and piles her hair on her head in graceful loops that make me pray for protection against jealousy. Her cancer check-up dates are on our calendars and we pray and follow up with her. She walks sweetly with Jesus in word and in deed and visiting her is a good and right thing.

After we chat and she coos over Sadie, Eric points out this picture on a desk.

It’s Main Street in Lexington and it appears to be from sometime in the 50s or 60s. It’s from before my time but it makes me have this strange yearning. It’s beautiful and we drink it in with our eyes and tell the stories of it with our mouths.

The old KU building. Baker’s Shoes. Lerner Shops. McCrorys. The Phoenix Hotel. Stewart’s.

When Jane was young, she worked at the shoe store after school.

Standing there, high in the KU building, with one eye on Sade, I wanted to be there on Main Street. I wanted to know what it was like to have the traffic go both ways though not as fast nor as crowded as today, and have men in suits and hats pass me on the wide sidewalk and open doors like I know gentlemen can and nod, and have my own self clothed in a dress and hat and gloves and nylons and sensible black pumps.

But my need for coffee calls from the deep within place and we hold Jane and promise prayers for May 10 and instruct our Sadie to say “Thank you for having us” and to blow a little kiss. Jane catches it and puts it on her cheek. 

The Lord has dealt bountifully with me.

I don’t think about the BMI. I don’t think about how my menu and my budget will need to change yet again to accommodate these beautiful and somewhat saggy and creaky bodies God has given us. I don’t think about having to drive in Lexington. I don’t think about being broken.

As we sit near the window of A Cup Of Common Wealth and try to encourage Sadie to eat the scone and not crush it, all I think about is how rich I am and how generous God has been to open His cornucopia of numbers and travel and people and mercy and pour it out on us.

I, in my stubborn, human way, might have missed all this.

This is what flashes in my mind when Miss Aleen begins our fourth cycle of talk.

“I sure do like that interim pastor. God sure knowed what He was doing, didn’t He?” she asks me.

“Doesn’t he work downtown?” I ask.

“Why, I think you’re right. Oh I remember downtown,” she says. 

“Do you remember Baker’s Shoes?” I ask.

“Lord, yes! And McCrory’s where we used to pop a balloon to see if we had won anything,” she says and claps her hands together. “I worked back in this building, Perkins, it was. They gave me a little room where I did all their accounting. They sold fancy women’s things, they did. Yes, they did. And I did all their numbers for them.” 

And there we were the two of us, hand in hand, on Main Street in Lexington.

And I almost missed this.

I close my eyes for a few moments as Miss Aleen goes on and on. She is happy and secure and she is there even though she is here with me. My heart whispers gratitude overflowing as I realize that God has given me exactly what I wanted.

A dress and a hat and little gloves and nylons and sensible pumps, and a friend with which to walk.

Her main street bounty is right and good. Together, we see the hand of God and it makes us sing. 

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