Friday, November 3, 2017

the Malick Mysteries

our father who art in heaven swirls into the quiet sky and the grey and nearly leaf-less tree that slices across my line of sight.

Alex's voice floats gently upward into the blue atmosphere like a swirl of smoke. The sky swallows up his prayer and works his voice into the symphonic rustle of the autumn evening.

It's an evening that's teeming with life and still activity. A family of squirrels races across the dome of rocks that roofs the Grotto. A chipmunk sticks her nose into the drain cover. She peers in, leaning in with her whole body, and then, one last little hind paw clinging to the metal grille, she dives down to explore. Then she resurfaces and scampers underneath the long red kneeler, scattering leaves underfoot. A squirrel couple is chasing each other over to the right. A bird squawks at the incoming intruder that flies into her nest. The sky is silent, but the world beneath it a symphony of scampering, tuneful critters squabbling, a dance whose movements praise the mover.

It's about to be sunset at the Grotto, and the vibrant fall colors of the trees sink into the cool grey of the dusky lake, which reflects the dull grey of the permacloud sky. But still, in spite of the grey, a sparkling blue patch of sky rips through the clouds and shines brightly over the Basilica. The sun gilds the grass. I don't know how. The grass is still vibrant and green, but it shines golden.

My gloved hand and Alex's chapped one link as we pray in front of two candles, lit side-by-side, prayers offered one next to the other. Behind us the sunset starts to stain the sky pink, and the bells of Saint Mary's are playing a harp-like carillon that stretches out behind us, winding over the sunset trees and lakes, and reverberates in the cave of candles, frosted by our breaths and the flickering candles.

His fingers move over the wooden beads, my hands rest on the smooth scripture page in my lap. He wraps his arm around my parka, and I cover his bare hand with glove. We pray while keeping each other warm.

The clock strikes 6:15pm, and the street lamps turn on with a click and a fluorescent jolt. The moment is over, but the rosary, like the sunset, can extend itself indefinitely and linger before it ends. One can tack on prayers to archangels, memorares, and endless oremus-es. But eventually you must unwrap yourselves and wrap up prayer as the sun sinks behind the lake and dusky evening turns to night.

Reformation Day, 2017

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