Sunday, July 6, 2014

careening towards the open road

 As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of the dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.
--The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein

We walked along the Minnehaha Creek, below the falls. The constant Minnesota rain this spring had caused the waters to swell exponentially, and instead of idyllic falls running into a peaceful stream, the careening water crashed over the edge of the rocky wall, and fell with a tumult into the pounding surf of the swollen creek.

As we walked alongside the creek, I was mesmerized by the rushing water.
The water was so fresh and clear, I wanted to reach out and touch, I wanted to run into the smooth undulating surface, and feel all the secret joy that I felt was woven through that rough surface. I was surprised by myself. Particularly in this situation, when I was host, not guest, older sister, not young daughter, I was overly cautious, ensuring no one fell off of the creaky boardwalks into certain death in the creek.

Then, as we crossed a bridge, hypnotized by the water rushing under our feet, I spied a calm little inlet upstream a bit.
One dare led to another, and before I knew it, three of us were headed into the calm water that swirled with deceptive sweetness and tranquility into the raging, overflowing creek.
We forded upstream, the squishy, slimy sand squelching beneath our toes. We climbed a tree that had created a bridge over our little stream, and sat there, pleased with ourselves as we surveyed the watery path we had just forged through. As we walked back to dry land, the rushing current just to my right caught my attention. I could hardly look away, I was enchanted by the beautiful violence of those unthinkably many gallons of water.

There is something about danger in nature that, instead of repelling us, as it ought, has a bizarre and contrary magnetism. We are drawn to the awe and power of nature. Its beauty lies in its intractability. Our inability to control nature is one of its most fascinating and appealing aspects.
Perhaps this is why we are drawn to people who have a hint about them. 
No person is completely tractable and docile. 
Each person we encounter is a momentous fragment of eternity. But, just like the usually placid stream, their power is hidden under layers upon layers of ordinariness.
Rainstorms usually reveal the roaring current that hides in each calm creek; and often life's thunderstorms uncover the stern stuff that surges under the disinterested surface of the pleasantly ordinary humans with whom we spend our days.

The Took side had won. 
He suddenly felt he would go without bed and breakfast to be thought fierce.
--The Hobbit

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