Britney Lyn Hamm A Distant Music Home

A Distant Music: Part IV

Britney Lyn Hamm Author A Distant MusicIV. HOME

I poured my body over His
My ribs, they wracked with grief
Why had He come only to die,
How could this be the end?
If death had won what was the point?
The other path it beckoned me
Perhaps the wrong road had I chosen
Perhaps it was time to see

My shoulder felt a gentle touch
I whirled around in disbelief
For there He stood alive and well
I stared at Him confused
Then saw the body I had held
Was nowhere to be found
Only a pile of white clothes
Folded there remained

“Now, my child, now you see
It’s finished and it’s done
The power of sin is broken
Death, it has no reign
All your travels from then to now
They’ve all led you to me
I’m the thing you’re looking for
Your search can end with me.”

His hand he held for me to hold
I placed my hand in His
And felt the holes still in his palms
To show He was my Lord
The music it began to play
Grew louder, louder still
When streets of gold we came upon
I knew at last; I’m home.

 

Happy Easter!

A Distant Music: Part III

A Distant Music Britney Lyn Hamm Sunrise

III. DEATH

He brought me to my feet
And lifted his shirt high
He placed my hand upon his side
I jerked back with a cry
Tears they brimmed my stricken eyes
He smiled and wiped my tear
“See my child,” he whispered,
“It’s by these stripes you’re healed.”
Without control my tears poured down
As if heaven itself had rained
In shock I watched as his robe changed
Turned red in deepest stain
He lifted his arms to his side
Red dripping to the ground
Forward I rushed
Desperate to stop the blood.

“It’s done,” he cried in great relief
I followed his gaze down
My ashen clothes had turned to white
The stains of sin no more
Anew I wept with tears of joy
Then halted suddenly
For if my sin had taken he
What happened to my lord?

Before me was a crumpled pile
His body sickeningly still
The blood had stopped its gushing flow
From the now-dry wounds he bore
I realized that the music stopped
As if this were the end
I wept, “Return to me, my Lord,”
But nothing answered back.

A Distant Music: Part II

II. ENCOUNTER

Then on that path I stumbled low
And fell face to the ground
That voice grew louder, closer still
I trembled in prostrate bow
A gentle hand reached out to me
And lifted my chin high
And what I saw did not expect
Filled was I with bewildered awe

I saw a face soft and worn
A smile gentle and kind
But his eyes intrigued me most of all
Their knowing intent stare
I dropped my head back to the ground
Full of disparaging shame
For I felt unworthy and full of filth
Yet I knew not even his name

His knees dipped low to the ground
His eyes they bore on mine
He whispered, “I have taken your sin;
There is no place for shame
I am the Shepherd, I am the Vine,
I am who I am,
“Come my child,’ he beckoned me,
“Your soul is finally free.”

Still in disbelief I knelt
Unwilling to believe
My shame, my sin, could they be gone?
If so, how could it be?
The music it grew louder still
So glorious a sound
As if a heavenly host were near
Yet he was the only one around

A Distant Music: Part I

 

I began writing this story poem several years ago.  Easter week seems an appropriate time to finish writing it as I reflect on the meaning of this week. I pray that reading it in each installment blesses you as much as writing it has blessed me – and don’t judge; I’m a novelist, not a poet!

I. SEARCH

I came upon a beckoning path
With treacherous twist and wind
Its narrow rocky appearance
Seemed anything but sublime
Though instinct told me “step right past
And do not look behind”
Something pulled me deep within
To see what I might find

Down that path the wind it blew
Whis’pring me to come
A distant music sounded too
Lilting flute, entrancing hum
My path till now was safe I knew
Filled with indulgment and ease
But some vast longing deep within
It hardly did appease

One step I took to seal my fate
No turning back remained
For once I chose the beckoning path
Enraptured I became
That gentle music was my guide
As I stumbled on my way
My heart beat a fiercesome storm
Yet strange peace rendered it tame

Each step I took I felt a change
Drawn to this unseen end
I was alone yet felt no fear
As the path did twist and bend
A deep pure voice joined the flute
And it too became my guide
And the voice just drew me on and on
Powerless was I to hide

Death Has Come Calling

Day One

I brace myself, expecting it to be bad. I’ve been preparing myself for the past week to do this. It’s something I need to do, for me. I know it will be hard. I know it will be painful. I know it will be emotional. But I need to. For me and for her and for my mom. 3087, 3086…5 more steps and I will be standing outside her room. As I take those final steps I think to myself, “I can do this. I can do this.” I enter the room. It’s not bad. It’s worse. Drawing in a deep breath, I come next to the bed.

Everything inside of me is screaming, “Get out! Leave! You’ve done your duty; you’ve seen her, now go!” But I stay, as if there is a hand on my shoulder holding me in place. I take her hand and stroke it gently. She opened her eyes slightly. Mom says, “Mom, she’s here.” She’s pretty agitated and unaware, but I’m sure she knows I’m there because she squeezes my hand ever so slightly.

For whatever I expected to see, I didn’t expect this. Her hair is gray. I’ve never seen it gray – she’s always kept it perfectly dyed red. I’ve never seen her without makeup. She looks…old. And she’s never looked old before. She’s never acted old before either. Heck, she won’t even let us call her Grandma. “Merlin” it’s always been, as if she could make herself younger like the magician did.

Now she’s just lying there, unable to speak due to the tubes down her throat, agitated and frustrated and tired, and hardly aware of anything going on around her. Gone is the vibrant personality. Gone is the butterfly. Gone is the youthful spirit that has always made her seem decades younger than she really was.

I stand there holding her hand, wanting to break down and cry. But the owner of that hand on my shoulder places another in my free hand, holding me still, and whispers, “You can’t. I can.” Somehow I am filled with an inner strength not of my own, a strength that keeps me at the hospital for the next three hours, talking with my mom, waiting with my mom, offering her the strength and support that she needs after spending a ten days at the hospital every day.

I get in my car to go home, start the engine, and play a song. For some strange reason, I don’t break down. I go home and practice piano and simply don’t think about the way shelooked or the pain of seeing her go through so much and my mom trying so hard to be strong. I resolve to go back again, tomorrow and the next day and the next, because if I can bear it once, I can bear it again, with that same strength not my own.

Day Two

I arrive at 11 this morning expecting that they will have already taken her to surgery. She’s still in the room, weary and ready for the surgery to be over. She’s more alert today though. She definitely knows who I am; she pats the bed beside her and I sit down and hold her hand. I tell her about recent news in my life; I haven’t seen her since before all this began, except for yesterday, which doesn’t count.

The first hour passes slowly as we wait, expecting them to take her down to surgery at any moment. They don’t. Finally, two hours later than projected, they pack her up and roll her up to the O.R. Before she leaves the room, I blow her a kiss. It could be the last one. That may sound pessimistic. It’s not. I’m at peace, but I’m realistic. She’s 77 years old with a collapsed lung, kidney and liver problems, and a boatload of other problems including congestive heart failure.

Over three hours have gone by. The clock ticks slowly. Can time pass any slower? Each hour feels like days. I sigh. Thank God for WiFi. I’d be going crazy without it. I know I could leave; Mom says she’s all right, but I know she can use the company and I’d like to be there when the surgery is over. Just in case.

Day 3

She made it through the surgery. I’m back here again today. Being here the last two days has shown me just how strong my mom is. She’s been doing this every day – watching her own mother in pain and discomfort, unable to communicate, near death at times, growing years older within a week – and yet she comes every day all day, enduring, bearing, doing what must be done, putting herself aside to be here for her mom. Now that’s what I’m doing, because someone has to be here for my mom too.

When I see her, her skin looks ashen. Her hair is whiter than it was yesterday. The cumbersome tube is still in her throat. Her hand feels light as a feather in mine. Her eyes do not twinkle. She does not call me by my nickname. She just lays there breathing with painfully labored breaths. We sit. We watch. We wait. Nothing happens, but so much happened.

Though she made it through the surgery, deep inside I know: this is the beginning of the end.

Death has come calling.

 

 

Wet.

Some days are just plain ironic. And wet.

The first time you get drenched in the rain as you sprint from the door to your car (which, by the way, is less than 30 feet) and back again (due to a tornado warning), you have a pretty easy time laughing it off despite the fact that you’re wet and cold. (Maybe it even reminds you of an oh-so-common scene out of a movie: pouring rain, drenched girl, boy shows up, both drenched, tears mix with rain, resolve conflict, kiss in the rain, rolling credits). It’s easy to laugh off getting drenched the second time you dash out to your car (that is, as long as you have access to warmth and a towel to prevent the onset of a summer case of hypothermia) – the irony is that you just put a dry shirt on.

You drive home (in yet another downpour of rain from suspiciously green skies, dodging 3 burst storm sewers and gliding through 8 inches of sitting water in some intersections, mind you) and your car is rattling, again, making a noise it wasn’t making last week before it went into the shop. So, once more you take your car to the shop and wait for someone to pick you up. There goes your afternoon nap, and you’re still sitting in wet jeans (at least the repair shop has chocolate in their candy dispenser).

Finally, you’re clean and dry and warm, the wet jeans discarded and a fresh pair put on after a hot shower. Your family goes out to dinner, and just before you order your little brother knocks over his entire adult-sized glass of coke. Where does it go? Not hard to figure out – all over your clean, dry jeans, of course. So, for the third time that day, you’re sitting in wet jeans, and now you have the added pleasure of being sticky. Your little brother managed to not just get the front of your jeans wet, but the back too, and, honestly? That takes talent (although it’s probably not a talent worth pursuing if he has any desire to live to his next birthday).

For a moment you’re just stunned, not sure what to say or do, then you go the restroom and try your best to soak up the coke, but really, it’s quite hopeless until you can take them off (which the restaurant might have a problem with you doing). You return to the table, look your brother in the eye, and burst out laughing. What else can you do? It seems to be your lot to be wet, and rather than let it ruin your day, why not choose to enjoy the irony? Plus, perhaps it’s a sign from God that perhaps you should wear a raincoat for the rest of your life.

After dinner, you go out dancing and pay 8 bucks to sit there for an hour and a half and only get asked to dance 5 times. That boosts your confidence (maybe they all have an instinctive feeling that if they dance with you’ll they’ll end up wet, which is quite possible – remember Pooh Bear and his personal rain cloud?). You’ve got a headache, and you just want to go home and crawl into bed while you wait for your boyfriend to call.

Your car is in the shop (remember?), so you drove your dad’s sleek but finicky 6-gear stick-shift car. You get in. You buckle up. Turn on the car, klutch down, emergency brake off (because you’re parked on a slight hill and you have a fear of your car rolling away without you. Or with you), ready to shift into reverse…But wait, the stick won’t go into reverse. Nope. You try for 5 minutes, your frustration growing and tears threatening to pour like the rain (yes, rain) outside the car. No luck; the gear will go into 6th but not reverse.

By this point, you feel like a complete idiot (who can’t get a car in reverse?)? You call your dad, who has no answer but to come help you (at least you can be thankful that he wasn’t already in bed as he usually is, and that he didn’t laugh in your ear). So you sit, for 20 minutes, in the dark in the car as the rain patters outside the window. It’s at this point you have the choice to laugh or cry, but right now you’re so tired and slightly sick of irony that all the emotion wells up inside and overflows down your face (notice that once again, you are wet; while not quite drenched, you are still wet).

Your dad finally arrives to save the day. Of course he is able to get the car in reverse right away. Your feelings of total idiocy are short-lived, because when he tries again it takes multiple tries and a lot of jamming (possibly some choice words, too). Obviously this proves something is definitely wrong with the car, not you (well, that’s slightly debateable, but don’t dwell on that).

Once safely at home, indoors and dry, you sit at the kitchen table, share your woes, and have a heart-to-heart with a your dad over a midnight snack (for you – ice cream. For him – a cream cheese peanut butter pickle sandwich. You don’t ask). Your confidence level goes back up as he does what any good father does – tells you the boys are the idiots and won’t ask you to dance because you’re strong and confident and beautiful.

And between a half hour of cherished late-night conversation with your dad, and getting to talk to your boyfriend before you fall asleep, you fall asleep laughing wryly inside at the satiric irony of the day. Tomorrow is a new day – and no rain is in the forecast!

Home

I wrap a shawl around me and slip away from the bed in the chill of the night with a quick glance behind me, quickly yet quietly, hoping to go unnoticed yet longing to be noticed. As silent as can be, yet wishing that some undetectable noise I make might be detected and my passage discovered. But no, I slip away in the quiet of the night in search of that secret place no one knows but myself and one other. That place…the place that envelops me with something indescribable…something that surpasses all understanding…something that brings understanding as silently as the dawn brings the morning…something that wipes tears away and washes me clean.

The night is crisp yet I feel I am burning up, sweating with the intensity at which I pursue my quest. I take with me a few guides – letter and journals, really – in hopes they might help me find that place again. I walk slowly, thinking, processing, reading, searching. Why is it always so hard to find? For when I arrive it is so familiar as if I never left, always leaving me wondering why I did in the first place. I am searching for that place of clarity, for all has been a quest in vain lately. It has been a search met with dead ends, or simply ending up in the place where I started, with jumbled thoughts I cannot make sense of.

Deep down I know what I am searching for beneath the clutter and the noise. I’m at the point of desperation, where the clutter and the noise make me insane and all I want is to be in that place..the place of Peace.  I feel incredibly alone, which makes no sense at all. At any moment I could return to the comfort, warmth, and company found in my bed, yet something inside me stops me in my tracks, or perhaps pushes me forward…pushes that longing aside in pursuit of answering a greater question, a greater longing. A longing that only One can fulfill.

Silent sobs accompanied by a lonesome tear here and there…silent sobs I wish someone would hear. Yet my steps become more purposeful, stronger, faster, taking me farther away from my comfortable world. As I read the journals and letters the path becomes clearer. I’m beginning to see things more clearly. I can make out the place ahead of me.

As the mist clears ahead of me my heart breaks with the realization that I have buried my own path beneath the clutter and noise of my heart. As I draw closer my heart feels it is going to burst with the depth of the longing I have tried to fill with other things, wonderful things, but things that weren’t meant to fill that place,and I am broken with that understanding.

My feet are running now and can’t seem to stop. The truth is becoming clearer, the longing more intense now that I remember what I am longing for. The noise is clearing, and the clutter doesn’t matter anymore; it can be sorted out later. My steps are pounding; I can’t get there fast enough. The directions line my path now, inscriptions on rocks written ages upon ages ago. They are there every time I journey to this place, like markers that reassure my heart with overwhelmingly familiarity with every step I take.

“He only is my rock and my salvation, He is my defense…”

“God is a refuge for us…”

“Your lovingkindness is better than life…”

“Your right hand upholds me…”

“The Lord is my portion…”

“My expectation is from Him…”

“Be still, and know that I am God…”

“These are not just idle words for you, they are your life…”

“My times are in your hand…”

“You forgave the iniquity of my sin…”

“On You I wait all the day…”

“The Lord is the strength of my life…”

Like a magnet pulled inevitably towards the opposite end I am pulled toward that place until I am standing there, in that secret grove, surrendered and abandoned and vulnerable.

When I look around I realize that the world is still sleeping; no one has noticed that I am gone. But He is here. He is always here. He is looking at me with that look in His eye that beckons me near, saying

All is forgiven, come my child, I am your deepest desire, your most intense longing…come and be filled

When He speaks those words I know I am there. In that secret place. The search is over, the quest is done; for now anyway, until I let some distraction lead me away again.

I throw my head back with a laugh of joy followed by crumbling forward into a bundle of tears.

The arms of Love envelope me so tight till I cannot move from their grasp, the Grasp that grips me again and again no matter how far I run.

The taste of the Bread fills me till I long for nothing else, the Bread that is my Life.

The whispers of Grace abound in my ears till I can hear nothing else, not even the noises of the night or the footsteps on the ceiling, only that Voice which tells me Truth.

The touch of Peace calms my heart so I can sleep, precious peaceful sleep that restores the soul.

And I am Home.

A riddle: like the dawn

Sunrise over harbor

It is like the dawn. It creeps up, slowly, gently, softly, like the sun creeping its way up over the horizon.  At first it is no more than a glimmer, a hint of light pervading the darkness. But then a hint becomes a ray, a ray that spreads across the sky painting not just one spot but the entire picture.

As it creeps, its warmth spreads all over. A warmth that wasn’t there before, but a warmth that is so natural and so awakening, so inviting. The warmth is at first so surprising that it sends shivers, but those quickly disperse as the warmth takes over.

And the colors. As the sun rises, as it rises, it brings new colors, each color new and exciting, bringing a perspective not previously seen, at least not in that light. Each stage of the sunrise, like the stages of it, is different. They change, they shift, they deepen, they lighten, but from the shimmer of light catching a piece of glass or water to the full illumination they present a fresh view on everything.

There is something about the dawn…something about this, so peaceful, yet so restless. Just waiting for full realization. The breathtaking moments as the sky changes from dark to light. A world awakened, brightened, warmed.

And suddenly, as sudden as it was subtle before, you look into the sky and realize that the sun is no longer creeping but rather right on top of the world. It has taken over, touching everythingright in front of you, and you could not help it just as you cannot help the joy and warmth that you feel. The sun has risen quite slowly and quite abruptly all at the same time.  One moment it is but a faint glow and you feel but the slightest twinge of warmth; the next it is radiantly encompassing.

So it is. From the faintest light it creeps, painting a beautiful picture, revealing new things and new perspectives, until all the sudden you realize it is upon you. It is absolutely breathtaking. It weakens you and strengthens you all at once. It warms you through and through, and you desire nothing more than to be basking in its presence as if basking in the sunlight.

It is like the dawn.

It’s No Longer Safe

Nothing was the same anymore. It was as if some strange melody had turned from harmonious to dissonant, its eerie chords setting the mood.

The stranger peered in through the glass walls that separated him from the young woman. She was nearly trembling, her eyes wide with an uncertain fear as she scanned her transparent walls. He tapped lightly on the walls, startling her long enouh for her to catch sight of him before her eyes returned to their careful task.

“What are you doing, Angelica?” Her eyes continued searching until they found what they were looking for. She straightened up and lifted a finger, pointing to something. His eyes followed until he saw.

“There is a crack in my walls.” She dropped her hand down to her side. She turned and looked him in the eye, then spoke slowly, barely audible. “It’s no longer safe.”