She’d just climbed up and in when it fell apart and down.

The neighbor man made it for my mother-in-love and her sister when they were young. “The last girl to get married,” he said, “gets to keep it.”

Mom gave the set to us shortly after our wedding. That bed’s enfolded guests, our daughter, us, and now the grandgirl has claimed it. She even carved her name in the headboard to seal the deal. We’re not too happy about that.

I was living in the hospice house with my mom when my husband accidentally locked a cat in that room. For two days. We had to throw the mattress out.

You can’t buy a new three-quarter width mattress. It needs to be special made, and this time we ordered both top and bottom. That raised the height by several inches, and made bedtime a special challenge while her collarbone healed, so we’d brought in a small stepladder.

The bed collapsed that night with a bang. The ladder tilted, she bumped against the dresser, and I caught her before she tumbled into the closet.

It the past, a short slat had given way, but that night we discovered the frame ripped right out of the footboard. The foundation could not bear the added weight of two deep mattresses.

The bough broke and the cradle fell.

While it was out for repair, she lay low, mattresses on the floor. She liked it, easy in and easy out. No worries about falling long and hard. So we put off putting everything back together. But I could no longer stand the encircling nest of a mess, so on Saturday we elevated her again. We hope the foundation holds firm.

When I made the bed, a faint scent of woodstove smoke wafted from sheets left to sit too long in the dryer. And my mind drifted back to last week as the world waited for the sight of white smoke that would signal one had been elevated. One who could have a longer way to fall if he doesn’t live low.

The reports tell stories of a man who took the bus to work, who washed the feet of unwed mothers and recovering drug addicts, who has a heart for those who hurt. One with a heart of humility. A servant leader.

I think of Jesus who made Himself nothing, God come low to lift us up. Who touched the broken and the outcast. Who had nowhere to lay his head. Who carried the fragrant aroma of sacrifice.

Then I remember Paul’s words:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. ~Philippians 2:3-4

I think of how far I am from living this. How I prefer the comfort of my Tempur-Pedic. How freely I carry the smoke of self.

I’m bowed low by this truth.

Tonight a thud and a scream come from the bedroom. The girls have been playing on the bed. A slight push from the two-year-old, and the ten-year-old hit the hardwood floor. Her head bumped the rail on the way down.

“Let’s not play around on high,” I tell them after I’ve checked her over and hugged away the tears. “You forget how far you have to fall.”

I think again of the new pope and stop to pray for him, pray that he can stay low.

I smile and wonder how he likes his new bed.






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Sandra Heska King
PRAY EDITOR "Once a nurse, always a nurse," they say. But now I spend my days with laptop and camera in tow as I look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I'm a Michigan gal, mom to two, grandmom to two, and wife to one. My husband and I live on 50 acres in the same 150-plus-year-old farmhouse he grew up in. I love this quote by Mary Oliver, "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." That's how I want to live. And I'm still learning how to be. Still.
Sandra Heska King

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