In our front yard, there’s an abandoned treehouse.  I was going to the mailbox, and I looked past the ash tree, toward the treehouse.  I never look that direction.  The mailbox is, you know, business, and not pleasure, and also you don’t really look at the place you live.  The treehouse is left over from previous residents.  The kids– whoever they were– didn’t personalize the place at all.  Or if they did, they took their ropes and magic-markered manifestos and popsicle wrappers with them.

I heard that the house and treehouse had been abandoned for a while, and I don’t know anything about the people who abandoned it.  Lost it?  Ran off to South America?  There are two boards still nailed to the tree, the first one up a little too high to make for a comfortable ascent.  I wondered if the first rung had been deliberately removed.  A year ago, late at night, I took a notion and climbed up there, and got covered in spiderwebs and probably even spiders.  I haven’t been back up since.

On the supports, cicada shells are planted.  It’s that time of year.  Cicadas are the first things to molt.  Much later, the trees, and even my cats, who start shedding with cruel and unusual fury.  Cicada shells are scary.  Hair in the shower drain– even a hair in the shower at the gym– doesn’t bother me.  I know some people are really grossed out, but I just pull it out, wipe it off.  Cicada shells are more like empty costumes than shed hair.  Empty costumes are daunting.  Who was in there?  Who could be?

I’m feeling my shell, I guess, and wondering what I will be wearing when I wiggle out of it.  Recently, a friend introduced me, during this getting-to-know you game, and said, “She teaches, and she writes, but I don’t know what her plans for the future are.  What are they?”  I was startled to realize I didn’t know, either.  Maybe I should run off to South America…?

This week is the feast of Joseph of Arimathea.  After Jesus is pronounced dead, Joseph asks for the body, so that it can be properly buried.  Biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan believes that Jesus’ body was probably either left on the cross to rot, or buried in a shallow grave, where it would be dug up by animals.  That makes more sense to me, as far as how a criminal’s body would be treated.  The stories tell us Joseph, who is not the most assertive guy otherwise, steps up to provide loving treatment for Jesus, and that makes sense, too.  You never know when people are going to step up.

Tolstoy wrote: “The whole trouble lies in the fact that people think that there are conditions excluding the necessity of love in their intercourse with man, but such conditions do not exist. Things may be treated without love; one may chop wood, make bricks, forge iron without love; but one can no more deal with people without love than one can handle bees without care.”  Maybe best to handle everything with care, even wood, bricks, iron– as it is not always clear what is alive and where the living will creep out.

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