Chapter Thirty-One: Wise Fear

Editor’s Note: One night, my dad and I were talking about various proverbs of Vine, and he went off on this tangent about his parents. I turned my tape recorder on. Reprinted with his permission. 

The records were always there. She could take comfort in that. There they were, playing hymns of comfort, no matter what happened. She could bake a pie or step out on the porch for a cigarette or sweep the hallway and still the records would play their sweet songs. It never mattered how long he was gone. 

Supper was served at 6 p.m. That was the way his mother would serve it. Meat and two: seared beef with baked potatoes and sautéed spinach, roasted chicken with rice and okra, ham with corn on the cob and sewed mustard greens. She could make any dish they could make over at ClearView, and at home, too. Some dishes took a long time to cook and some took a short time to cook. She would set the table and if he was there they would eat and if he wasn’t there she would eat and put the leftovers in the icebox. 

Life, she thought, is what you make of it. As the proverb goes: fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of Vine is a privilege. She wasn’t sure if she was wise but she knew she feared God. What else could you do. 

The vegetables were always fresh. When the time was right she would walk into the garden and raise her arms and the vegetables would rise and come to her. She would kill and de-feather the chickens or she would trade a chicken for some beef. She would hold her basket out and the eggs would float into a waiting terrycloth. 

He had never seen the garden or the coop. He had never looked at that part of the yard. 

Set the needle down and hear the scratch. Then the hymns come forth. Glory and adulation. Sin and repentance and forgiveness. The glory of God. The cleansing of all unrighteousness. The destruction of our enemies. The righteous killings. How God delivers. How God sounds over the organ music with the baroque harmonies of the choir. This is the Word of The Lord. 

Those folks over at ClearView? She didn’t wish them any ill will. They ran a fine establishment, good place for work crews to come in after a long shift and grab a meat and three. Sure, they could have their magic. The magic was working on them smothered pork chops, she was sure of that. Lord, they’ve been at it for years, over there at ClearView. But she knew, she could cook just as good. Her magic was powered by the redeeming blood of the Lord. 

His boots made mud stains on the porch no matter the weather. That was how she knew he was home. If the food had been gathered and there were mud stains he would want dinner. 

What power does God hold? Well, all of it. She knew that. She didn’t know if she was wise but she was not a fool. A foolish man has no fear. 

The knives had blood drops that wouldn’t wash out. Some things simply didn’t wash out. The sunrise would smooth over the fields and the sunset would surround the mountaintops and the river would always run and the sound of it filled the air while rifle shots signaled danger in the distance. Such was the majesty of the world. But some things would never wash out and could never be made clean again and this is why we pray. 

Though the flesh may be weak and soft and easily cut we must always remain steadfast in the redemption of the spirit. As the apples fall from the trees into the terrycloth-lined baskets we remember that new apples spring from new seeds even as the old dies anew. What is not to fear but the freshness of life as old life is being taken? Old life is cut without mercy and new life grows whether it wants to or not. But the truth is the old life must be cut. She was not a fool. She had fear. 

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