pondering a fall

Written by 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.

March 19, 2013


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.







  1. Patricia W Hunter

    Beautiful analogy, Sandra. Just beautiful. I had my grandmother’s 4-poster bed that did the same thing. Unfortunately, rather than getting it repaired, I gave it away.

    • Sandra Heska King

      This set needs refinishing. I’m actually thinking about falling low enough to paint it… Just thinking about…

      • Bonnie W

        Don’t……the wood breathes life and death…paint will ‘still’ this….your reading/writing thrills me….your wisdom widens me….

        • Sandra Heska King

          Oh, Bonnie. That pulled me up right short, dear friend.

    • Sandra Heska King

      There are lessons in everything if we have eyes to see and ears to hear, right?

  2. kelli woodford

    your words are both deep remembering and bright vision for tomorrow. beauty in beds, Sandy. i am lowered and stilled by the reading. thank you, my wise, wise friend.

  3. SimplyDarlene

    Wow, you weaved a whole into that tellin’ – miss Sandra.

    As for beds, my husband and I built ours. Nothing fancy, just plain 4×4 posts and 1×12 boards, and 2×4 slats… we’d slept on the floor the first eight years of our marriage. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.


    • Sandra Heska King

      I don’t mind the floor at all, Darlene. Without or without the trappings. But it was so easy for her to create a mess, and the room’s not that big, and I was tripping over everything. A fall waiting to happen on my part. At least this way, we can shove the stuff *under* the bed–hide it in a great coverup. 😉

  4. Kristin Lee Bridgman

    Loved this! And you are so right as you said in one of the comments, there are lessons everywhere if we look for them. You see mighty fine my dear! 🙂

  5. pastordt

    How I love this, graceful meandering round and round such important things. Thank you.

  6. Sophia DeLonghi

    Such thought provoking words…thank you for your heart sharing.

  7. Martha Orlando

    Oh, so beautifully written, Sandy! I love how you took the ordinary and raised it up to the holy. Wow!

  8. Megan Willome

    I love this idea of “standing low.” Are you familiar with Kate Braestrup? She has a similar idea: “If you fall, then
    it’s better to be on the ground already.”

    • Sandra Heska King

      I’m not. But I’m going to go become familiar with her now. 🙂

  9. Mia

    Hi Sandra
    I don’t think any of us is able to love the way our Pappa God asks us to! Only as we live in Him, will we be able to allow Him to love us abundantly and through us, those He gives us to love every day.
    Much love

    • Sandra Heska King

      Hi Mia. You’re so right. It keeps coming back to that melting into Him, right?


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pondering a fall

by Sandra Heska King time to read: 3 min