A Possum, an Egg, the Devil, and Fear
“Go gather the eggs, David.” I loved doing chores with Dad when I was a scant six years old. When he gave the order, I eagerly rounded the corner into the chicken coop. The nests were on the east wall. The west side of the tin barn had one small window that allowed the setting sun to send a sharp shaft of light onto the setting hens. It would have been another warm childhood memory, save for the large possum in the top row. The fading sunlight struck his eyes in the darkened barn, giving his eyes an unearthly glow. In his paws were the respective halves of an egg-shell… the sticky, yolk dripping from his mouth. Then he hissed at me!
This was a little more than a six year could handle. I backed to the west side of the coop without taking my eyes off the critter, for fear it would leap at me. My dad came in and saw my dismay, asking what was wrong. My jaws begin working, but no sound came out. I pointed at the demon in the roost, and my Father calmly, (but with a serious tone that could not be misunderstood), told me to go get the 22 (rifle). I ran as fast as my skinny legs would carry me, fetched the gun, and a box of shells. I scurried back down the path to the barn, where my Dad took the weapon from my grip. “Now go on back to the house.”
I gladly obeyed. In just a couple of minutes, the crack of that rifle silenced my fears. My Dad…my hero… has just dispatched the devil!
I am older now, and my Dad is no longer here to destroy my demons. My fears…well, they have taken on different forms. My fears don’t exactly have egg yolk dripping from their pointed fangs!
Those fears can be sharp and biting just the same. Cancer…spinal injury…stroke…demons that threaten my health, and leave me slowly turning on a spit. They are grown up fears that cause words to catch at my throat, and snatch my breath away.
I have had to find a father’s voice that would always be there…that could not be stripped away by death.
Once a 20-year old called and tried to talk to me, but he could not get the words out, though I am sure his mouth was moving. It was a choking, garbled sound. “What? Terry, I couldn’t understand you.” More garbled words, and then his mother took the phone and told me his sister had been killed in a car wreck.
Not what you want to hear at 1:30 in the morning. I went.
And I stood. I stood by a younger friend who wept over the bed of a two-month old…just a baby…who had unknowingly lost her mother. Again, as in the chicken coop, my mouth moved as I tried to speak, but no sound came out. I am pretty sure that was a blessing. What kind of words matter in the face of such horror?
Speechless then, we embraced. Terry and I and cried together.
That was good.
It took a long time for Terry to feel better, I imagine. I can’t really know. I have never lost a sibling.
But maybe you have. Maybe you could hold someone who is facing a fearful demon…you know…help them along the way…join them in the dark places so they can find the Father’s voice…and be comforted once again.