Today's Reading

Sarah died inside Hannah, and it was then the Lord's desire to close her womb. We don't want to lose Sadie, our first, to have her leave the house to be treated among the English. We lost Sarah. We lost the promise of a full house, of children to work by our side, to be our strength when age takes us. This would be a third loss. With God's help we would bear it, but it would be hard.

We prayed together, and with Jacob, that the Lord might bring Sadie healing. We say these prayers often. I know God hears them. The time will come. We have to be patient.

I will see what the doctor can do tomorrow. I will be true, but gentle with truth.

I am very tired.

September 9

Awoke before the sun, even before cockcrow. My mind leaps to all that must be done.

The cows gave a little less milk today. The steers I bought to fatten up for the winter are coming along well, putting on plenty of weight and eating well.

Plowed three acres and put in the wheat. That was my day. Jacob watered the horses, good lad.

Tonight she is quiet. The new medicine helps, thanks be to God. The doctor came, Doctor Jones, and though we did not tell him everything, I know he knew that things were harder. We held him in prayer. He is a Baptist, he says. A good man. He has always had kindness in his heart.

I am tired, but I'm still awake, and so I stood outside for a while. It was beautiful, the stars bright. But brighter still was the glow of Lancaster, off to the south, so many miles away. It is not really dark at night. I notice this. I wonder about my grandfather's father, and how he and I share the same place, yet even as we live beyond the English and their ways, their light still fills our skies.

I think of Mike, and his anger. Today he came to check on the order, and when he talked, he was very angry about something he had heard on the radio in his truck. The radio person was angry about "the global warming hoax," and "the economy," and everything. I do not know why Mike listens to the radio if all he receives is anger, but he does. The things I hear in my life are so different. I read. I listen to the worship, and to the singing, and to the teachings, and that is not what I receive. I listen to the stillness in our times of silent prayer especially.

It is a funny thing, to listen to silence. I do it when I am done with my prayers for my neighbors and my own struggling soul and the world around me. Then, I try not to pray at all. Why would God need to hear me babbling on about myself? Instead, I try to listen.

Even in silent prayer, when we are in worship, all is not quiet. Not if you are really listening. All around me, my brothers and sisters move and shift and rustle, like young leaves in a soft spring breeze. It is calming, to hear them. And a comfort.

I wish, sometimes, that Mike could hear such things.

But I am not Mike.

Mike was mad again at the president, and about the Congress. Apparently things are bad among the English. Another bridge failed last week, and many died. The lights in Lancaster have been dark more often lately. Others in this district do not see it. Best to sleep early after a long day, if you can. But I am often awake at night. The stars are so much easier to see, when the lights are out.

Mike is angry about that too. He says it's all a mess, that no one trusts anyone, that nothing seems to work. But mostly, he talks about how he is no longer free, and how the new taxes make it hard to buy fuel to drive his big truck.

I don't know. This has been a strange year again, sometimes so hot, at other times too cool. The rain has not come often these past few years, and when it comes, it comes fierce like a fever. Deacon Sorenson remembers when it wasn't so, and will fret now and again, although we know that we must take what the Lord gives us.

Many have lost their crops, and we have had to help many families. There has been much praying, but little has changed. Perhaps this is the work of the English. Others do not say it, but I do think it. I think it often. If they can fill the night sky with wasted light, perhaps this heat is theirs as well.

But it is all right. I am not English. I would never wish to be.

This excerpt is from the hardcover edition.


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