The Next Morning
The darkening night is as the day to the Lord of Hosts, to the Lamb who was slain from the beginning of the world.
The next morning he awoke sluggishly with the excuse of his malaise resting in several too many drinks. He sat up and turned to see her resting peacefully beside him, back turned to him. He thought of sex and then thought of the times when shame would overtake him immediately upon thinking of that first above all else, and then realized there was nothing really in the space where shame used to feed, and finally he just let out a laugh, harsh and grating. She awoke at that, he knew she did, but her stiffened body did not turn over; he thought bemusedly that it would be ironic if she was crying and so stiff with spoken memories of another girl so fresh out of his lips. He then figured he should probably stop staring at her, and then laughed again after choking back something else. It was this that turned over the body of his wife to peer curiously at her husband. He could have sworn she was thinking about her father.
Do I remind you of him?
She blinked, twice, and then smiled sadly before yawning and asking what sorcery was he up too. Her hair was disheveled, and she was so beautiful; pangs of things lost long ago struck melancholically in the dry winter air.
I’m sorry, he said.
He caught her looking at him again that night at dinner with a memory lingering just past her mind’s eye.
We learned a bible story today at Awanas, but I got confused and then everybody laughed at me.
That’s okay sweetie, better to hear laughter even should it be at your expense than to hear sobbing, he said a bit too casually.
His wife looked up from her plate, eyes glistening.
Go ahead, tell me the story and maybe I can help clear up the confusion.
Well Jesus was talking about wine, which I know is bad for you unless you only sip it very slowly.
That is not a bad way at all to think about wine, he said eyes twinkling even though he could only continue to look at his daughter.
Yea, I made it up all by myself, the daughter said, before continuing with her story.
But then Jesus told us not to pour brand new wine into an old container or something, because it was new.
Ah yes, he said recalling distant memories beyond the horizon of his time; Do not pour new wine into old wineskins.
Skins, yes that was it, because I asked why wine has skin if it is a liquid and then everyone laughed at me.
Well sweetie, that story has always confused me as well, but tell you what, go ahead and go fetch our Bible from the living room and let’s read it together to see if we can figure this out.
The daughter scrambled out of the room excitedly.
In this new silence, he dared not speak for there was some kind of electricity like substance coursing through the room or through his thoughts or within the veins of his wife leaping forth and striking parts of his soul which had died long ago. He could only gaze upon her, her olive skin and green eyes, the freckles on her face letting a few rogue tears flow by gracefully.
The Bride of Christ, he thought suddenly and absurdly.
I got it Dad, he heard amidst the patter of bare feet on wood floor rapidly approaching. Excellent, he said, still trying to figure out why his eyes were becoming filled. Would you like to read it sweetie.
I’ll try my best; can you help me though.
Of course, I will be here when you need me.
She turned slowly through many books of the Old Testament before landing on Hebrews and turning backwards to the beginning.
Where is it, she asked, beginning to realize the immensity of her task.
Well, you just started Mark two weeks ago right?
Yes, she cried happily holding up the Bible to show she was in Mark already.
Alright take a moment and look through those first few chapters.
Seconds later, she started to read excitedly somehow ignoring the clang of the knife that Evelyn dropped upon her plate.
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come…”
She trailed off as she started to ponder things stored up in her heart.
“But the time will come,” she began again, “when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.
No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.” She looked up, sensing her mom’s hands shaking. He comforted her with a slight smile. As he gazed upon this mortal woman who was his wife and was his joy, he began to know, to know of torn seams, of painful painful earth-shattering moments that in his comprehension could never be healed. There were things in those seams, things which might be alive.
Go ahead sweetie, Mom is fine; the Living Word makes some laugh, some weep, some rejoice, and some heal. Go ahead and finish.
“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins.”
To say there were shivers running up and down his spine would be an almost heretically feeble way to explain what was coming out of those words, what was rising up within him, and what was rebelling mightily throughout.
“Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined.
They pour new wine into new wineskins.”
She peered down at the end of this story for a while, thinking, feeling, knowing, and then looked up at both of her parents. Their shadows were jagged for there was a Light that was cutting angular all the soft features.
And she saw through the veil, saw the half of her father’s face that was well lit smile reassuringly back at her.
I love you.
I love you as well.
Can we read again for dinner tomorrow?
I’ll let you pick out any story you wish.
He thought she would ask about her mom, but strangely she appeared to already know far more about her than he did.
May I be excused now? I want to start looking for stories.
Yes, of course Lily.
As she left the room, he peered curiously at his wife, who had started to eat again mechanically, smiling sadly from time to time while dabbing the corners of her mouth with a tear-stained napkin.
He seemed not to know what to say, and so yet again, eventually, he slinked off beers in hand to gaze in awestruck wonder at the sunset raging outside.