Moving Firewood

A prayer

That hip you gave me 

has proved defective.

It creaks and aches

and brings the pain

down to the knee

 even unto the shin

and up to the shoulder 

to a stiff neck. 

 

It’s under warranty:

you promised to restore it. 

When?

So far I’ve waited 

two years and three months 

for a free relining

of that ball-and-socket

but it’s happening in B.C.

(and the clock isn’t running

backwards

though the medical system

seems to be running 

down).

 

I am reminded of restoration

most 

when I hurt,

especially

when I cut wood

or carry wood    

or split wood. 

 

Ah, wood,

a lovely creation.

It grows well here

and in lodgepole form

it dies well here

and when dry

it burns well here.

A surfeit of wood:

all that’s lacking

is the hip, the knee,

the shin, the back, 

the supple neck.

Being a possessor 

of a stiff neck

my joy 

is a mixed blessing 

at times.  

Joy – 

in cutting and carrying,

stacking and splitting – 

has become a matter 

of joy now / pain later.

(I thought it was supposed

to be the opposite.)

 

Worth it 

it was

this afternoon,

however. 

And reminded 

I was 

of Mr. Hatfield:

retired rancher, 

dedicated 

wood-scrounger

wood cutter

wood splitter

wood stacker.

His outside woodpile

only sixteen inches wide

one row

and about one hundred metres

long.

“Should be enough 

there to last a year or two.”

(The row outlived

the stacker, I remember.)

 

With aching hip 

and other 

sundry parts

taking a hiatus

from attracting 

unwelcome loving concern and attention,

I felt like a Hatfield,

retired,

though not a rancher, 

my woodpile 

with uneven sides 

and a dangerous list 

(not for a novice 

those long

single

rows).

 

And I thought, 

“Should be enough

in the garage

for a week or two.”

(Which will not outlive 

the stacker, I hope.)

 

Later,

sore but sated 

with work  

fried potatoes

(a rancher’s special)

I wonder:

when?

does the pain 

begin?

 

Do we have the story 

wrong?

Were the Gibeonites

cursed 

to be hewers of wood

and drawers of water?

Or were they

blessed

to be servants

of God

and his people?

Did they smirk 

as they pretended

to groan, thinking, 

“It worked.

We tricked Joshua 

into granting us 

good news,

great joy, 

mixed with moderate gall.”

 

“How wonderful, how

mysterious!

I carry fuel, I draw water.”

For those who are

for those who are

and wish they weren’t

for those who aren’t 

and wish they were

deliver we all

 

pray for a small

blessing

for those who have

and wish they didn’t

and those who have not

and wish they had

grace we wish

 

a drought

on those who are saturated 

and a sprinkle on those who are 

dry 

 

grace we ask

ask we for grace 

Author

  • Curt Gesch and his wife lead the singing via Zoom for a combined service of small United Church congregations in central B.C. each Sunday morning. In the afternoon, they lead a Friends and Family Zoom worship from their home. If you'd like to join that service, please write Curt at moc.liamg@36hcsegc.

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