Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: MUSIC (04/02/20)
- TITLE: Jesus the Gardener Fair
By Phillip Cimei
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Joseph, a lanky lad with freckles scattered like the sprinkles on his mother’s cupcakes, turned to his father and asked, “Now?” Like a parliament of hungry owls, the other children swiveled their heads in unison, hunting for a response.
“Not yet, son,” said his father, George, as he stroked his salt and pepper beard, not once, but several times. “Mother needs some time with baby Lily and with our Heavenly Father.” The children returned to the serenading of Lily. All but Anna, she looked back to see her father bowing his head, tears streaming down his face. Anna, more mature and astute than the average 16-year-old, new she needed to press on, consternation furrowed her brow. It was her turn.
“But father, I want to sing to baby Lily, as I did for these.” Anna knelt and hugged brothers, Mark and Michael, and toddler, Ruthie, who latched onto Anna’s leg as she often did to her mother’s. “Father, please,” she continued. That look and plea were oh too familiar to her father.
Anna, a mirror image of her mother, with her almond-shaped face encased with porcelain skin, also mirrored her mother’s tenacious spirit. But it was Anna’s songbird voice, often dwarfing the others, that always tempered her father’s unmovable disposition. She had a lot of practice—singing accentuated every event in her Hutterian family’s life. Especially in the “Baby House.” Just then, a song erupted outside.
Hutterian brotherhood families sang a lot— before every meal, every celebration, every event, and now the birth of Lily. The newborn’s family would occupy an exclusive apartment called “The Baby House.” They would stay in this quaint apartment for six weeks while bonding with the child. Traditional gatherings outside providing choral singing took place nightly for six weeks. Anna couldn’t resist her calling; she joined in, “All the earth to Him must bow; folded in His love they sleep: Little beasts that swim and creep; seed and flow’r are hidden deep.” This springtime lullaby was her favorite as it spoke of Angelic whispers that awakened God’s budding springtime creations. Anna’s accompaniment plucked on her father’s heartstrings.
Her father’s lungs swelled as he slowly inhaled, though the inspiration he needed now was more spiritual than physical as he uttered, “It is time, my little ones.”
Heads jerked, eyes batted with excitement, and little hands clapped like a seal performing for a meal. Not Anna, dismay, lowered the corners of her mouth. She knew now, she could sense it—another trait passed on from her mother. She could see a foreboding hand lifting her father out of the rocker.
Anna looked into her father’s reddened eyes as she yielded to his firm, but loving, grip. He swung the door open, Rachel motioned for them to come in. The others excited about meeting Lily for the first time scurried in. Rachel continued singing as each child gave her a loving hug and bent down to give baby Lily a peck on the cheek. Anna could see their reaction after each kiss. Anna approached her mother.
“Father didn’t tell us, but I knew,” said Anna as her arm made a swipe across her teary eyes?” Anna knelt and gently placed a kiss on Lily’s cold forehead then rested her head on her mother’s shoulder.
“You are so grown up, Anna,” her mother said as she motioned for the others to come and sit by Anna. Big sister was a magnet for refuge in situations like this. “Our Lord Jesus will fulfill His promise to defeat death. He said He would go and prepare us a beautiful place and one day will come back to take us there. Around our future eternal home, He has a garden. Now and then, He will select a beautiful Easter Lily, a newly formed bud unspoiled by the pestilence of this world, and replant it there to remind us when we get there of His loving promise. Lily, beneath the Gardener’s hand, will greet us one day.”
On this chilly spring morning, songs of Easter hope blanketed this grieving baby house, while the Angels, cuddling Lily, whispered words of hope. Anna and Rachel blended tears as they sang, “Jesus is the gardener fair.”
This is a fictional story based upon actual experiences with the Hutterian Society of Brothers community in Farmington, Pennsylvania, The words to the song are from one of their lullaby songs, Lullaby of the Sleeping World.
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