Thursday, May 29, 2014

a blessed duty

God has not died for the white heron.
--Calvary, Yeats

I stared at the organ, that grand instrument, a mammoth imitation of the work of God.
I wondered at the sounds that poured out of that giant beast of sound. It was a mystery. I could not comprehend how the sound was formed, as it came pouring out of the instrument, filling the chapel-like recital hall. The noise was like a powerful wind--it rumbled underneath my feet.
 The music emerging from that huge mass of pipes and wood sounded like the Creator of the Universe was playing with at thunderstorm.
We are used to music being safe and understandable.
In that concert hall, the organ owned us all.
It was in control, not we.
There was nothing tame about this music.
It was a wild force of nature, harnessed by the organs pipes, pumps and keys.
I have never heard music that has left me so completely awed.
Music as delicate as a hummingbird and as redoubtable as a redwood.

Outside the sunporch window, the skinny tabby cat and the mother deer are frolicking by the pond. The cat stops and stares at the doe sometimes. But doesn't do anything.
Above them, the family of goldfinches flutters by.
The blue jays chase the couples of cardinals away from the bird feeder, and the red-bellied woodpeckers chase them off. The woodpeckers leave when the crows show up.
The animals, I guess have their own sense of hierarchy. 
The mama deer and the tabby cat walk side by side back to the house.
It's comical, watching this wild creature and this semi-domesticated cat walk side by side. 
They come from the same kingdom, and yet live in two different worlds.
The cat saunters calmly back to the back door. He looks at the deer sort of sideways from the corner of his eyes, as the deer keeps pace with him.
He knows that this creature has not domesticated the owners of the house. 
But the skinny tabby comes from a breed of animals who has learned to live in harmony with the funny, oafish humans who live in strange wood huts.
The deer start with attention when they see me in the window. The cat yawns.
Oh that old thing, he mutters conspiratorially to the unheeding doe, she's harmless enough. Even scratches your ears when she's in a docile mood.
The birds flutter overhead, and the cat toys with the idea of stalking them.

About once a year, I get a craving for a Cinnabon.
Last year, it happened to be at an inconvenient time: in the Newark airport. Which, you'd think, would have Cinnabon shops aplenty. 
But actually, it doesn't. Not one. Not one Cinnabon.
I started craving one on the train on Tuesday.
Until I finally realized that craving a Cinnabon is usually better than actually eating one.
They're not that great, once you sink your teeth into them. In the abstract, on the other hand, they are divine. 
Luscious curls of thick, rich dough, filled with cinnamon, sugar, and butter, topped with drizzles of glaze. They are the paragon of comfort food.
Two months later, I arrived back in Newark, my Cinnabon craving was nowhere to be seen.
I shivered in the cold of the air-conditioned airport. My body felt naked and dry without the coat of sweat it was accustomed to wearing.
My ears were overwhelmed by all the conversations all around them that they could understand, and all the colloquial expressions that make American English--that oft-maligned and bastardized tongue--such a balm for homesick hearts:
You wouldn't even believe it!, It was so hot, it was crazzzzy!!
I think I bought a bagel or a muffin, as I ensconced myself into a corner of an orderly and friendly airport.
I know I called my mom.
Hi, Mom. I made it home alive
Those are the kind of phone calls that Moms like to get, I think.
I mentally prepared to tell her the events of the past two months that had made up the contents of the: Don't Tell Mom This Until We Get Home list.
I still didn't get a Cinnabon then, either. I didn't get a Cinnabon until Thanksgiving.
I ate it on a seat in the middle of a rotunda in the chaos of Mall of America.
I split it with my sisters--both blood sisters and the spiritual kind--and I reminisced of how much I craved a Cinnabon that sunny day in Newark, a day for starting friendships.
We laughed as we scarfed down every drop of icing and every last crumb of pecans and sweet, sugary dough.
If that is the last Cinnabon I ever taste, I will be content.
Every time I crave one, I will think of that moment, and be satisfied.

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