Mother’s Day Sermon
May 14, 2006
“I just called to say hi,” I told my mom this morning.
“And to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day?” She prompted.
“Oh yeah, and to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day!”
We talked for a few minutes, but being in a time zone three hours later than mine, she had to get to church. First she wanted to tell me about her dream last night, and then, of course, she wanted to hear my dream.
I dreamt that I had plans with someone, but right before he came over, I fell to the floor with exhaustion. This is only a slightly dramatized version of my real life. Last night my friend never came over, I called her, and fell to my bed with exhaustion at 7:30. I knew this would mean I would wake up way too early, but I just couldn’t hold out until 9. That’s why I called my mom at 5:30 this morning, an hour and a half after I woke up. And how I had time to read poetry before I called, which came in handy as my mom missed the first hour of church while talking to me. In acknowledgment of her lost hour of church, I decided to give her a mother’s day sermon. I got it from The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart which I was reading this morning.
I was worried because when I read it earlier in the morning, I started crying at the first sentence, having read it before and knowing what was coming. I tend to cry when I read things to my mom, even if it didn’t make me cry on my own. “Don’t worry,” I told my mom before I started reading it, “I cried earlier, but I’m fine now.”
What Happened During the Ice Storm
One winter there was a freezing rain. How beautiful! people said when things outside started to shine with ice. But the freezing rain kept coming. Tree branches glistened like glass. Then broke like glass. Ice thickened on the windows until everything outside blurred. Farmers moved their livestock into the barns, and most animals were safe. But not the pheasants. Their eyes froze shut.
Some farmers went ice-skating down the gravel roads with clubs to harvest the pheasants that sat helplessly in the roadside ditches. The boys went out into the freezing rain to find pheasants too. They saw dark spots along a fence. Pheasants, all right. Five or six of them. The boys slid their feet along slowly, trying not to break the ice that covered the snow. They slid up close to the pheasants. The pheasants pulled their heads down between their wings. They couldn’t tell how easy it was to see them huddled there.
The boys stood still in the icy rain. Their breath came out in slow puffs of steam. The pheasants’ breath came out in quick little white puffs. Some of them lifted their heads and turned them from side to side, but they were blind folded with ice and didn’t flush. The boys had not brought clubs, or sacks, or anything but themselves. They stood over the pheasants, turning their own heads, looking at each other, each expecting the other to do something. To pounce on a pheasant, or to yell Bang! Things around them were shining and dripping with icy rain. The barbed-wire fence. The fence posts. The broken stems of grass. Even the grass seeds. The grass seeds looked like little yolks inside gelatin whites. And the pheasants looked like unborn birds glazed in egg white. Ice was hardening on the boys’ caps and coats. Soon they would be covered with ice too.
Then one of the boys said, Shh. He was taking off his coat, the thin layer of ice splintering in flakes as he pulled his arms from the sleeves. But the inside of the coat was dry and warm. He covered two of the crouching pheasants with his coat, rounding the back of it over them like a shell. The other boys did the same. They covered all the helpless pheasants. The small gray hens and the larger brown cocks. Now the boys felt the rain soaking through their shirts and freezing. They ran across the slippery fields, unsure of their footing, the ice clinging to their skin as they made their way toward the blurry lights of the house.