Tuesday, December 15, 2015

fury of clarity

My God my bright abyss
into which all my longing will not go
once more I come to the edge of all I know
And believing nothing believe in this:
--Christian Wiman


We are down at the Rockefeller center tree, the mecca of the terrible bustling nonsense of New York City "Christmas."
Dutifully, I adore the Swarovski crystal star atop the giant tree. We pay homage to the glamor of Tiffany's and Harry Winston, and Bergdorf Goodman's gaudy, bejeweled mannequins. We approach the line of pilgrims that wind their way around the Saks 5th Avenue Window display, admiring the chic, wintry tableau.

Suddenly, I am ensconced in a circle of quiet. The spires of St. Patrick's Cathedral rise above the tumult, like dreadful, silent frozen candlelight. And I am enveloped in their mystic quiet, caught in the web of silent meditation they cast forth from their gothic façade.

All around me are the twinkling lights, pulsing, shimmering, radiating energy. Above me is the noisy music of the light show, the crowds are clamoring all around me, jostling one another to see the window displays and snapping photos. A family is pushing by me, mothers carrying large bags of gifts, there is yelling instructions for the family photo shoot.

But I am suddenly lifted above of all of them, I turn slowly, and the world spins slowly on its axis around me. The tourists are crying out in all sorts of language, I am surrounded by a babel of noises, and a cacophony of faces.

In just an instant, the city has shifted, so I am outside of all the noise, while completely inundated by it.  I am in the eye of the Manhattan hurricane.

This is an old blessing. A familiar comfort, and an avenue to falling in love with this city. For all that I desire is just space. Space that allows me to breathe without bumping into other people with my purse.

I have this space. Space seems to span out from me infinitely. And I, cocooned in an impervious bubble of peace, can observe with wonder the kaleidoscope of the city around me. As I turn, watching with awe, the mundane scene of holiday materialism is transformed by the kaleidoscope tiles shifting, tilting, turning the lights and people and voices into a mutating wheel of colors.

And I feel my heart beat. Pulse. Throb through my entire body. Calling out like a homing beacon for the voice in the silence. Crying out for the face I glimpse in the infinite quiet all around me.

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