Monday, July 16, 2018

a people of memory

I suppose the challenge is to encounter each day not as a grab-bag of events, or as a series of calculated steps, but as something effortless: a melody of actions and responses that all have a coherent inner union. In order to find something like meaning in a day, the day must revolve around one thing.

The bluebird father perches on the post of the garden, his chest puffed up with pride at the nest upon which his wife sits, tending to their freshly-laid eggs.

The chorus of sparrows, cardinals, and finches circle around the feeders, and the Rancho continues its daily business. As I stand on the prayer deck in the grey warmth of early morning, I am suddenly standing in the thick of memory. My mind picks up a memory of the night before, and I follow its thread back to other memories, other currents whose movements have all colluded to wash me up on the shore of this present moment. The past is seamlessly woven into the present here. As my mind follows the winding threads of stories, they all congeal for one solid and inexplicable moment in the sunlight on the oak leaves.

The moment is permanent and insoluble, but, like all moments, rigidly ephemeral.

I am in Hudson Memorial Church, the simple goodness of the white-washed meeting hall, celebrating that which is not pagan, a hall that offers the clarity and neatness requisite to see God. I suddenly, in the middle of the services miss messy churches. I miss the Melkite church just inside Jaffa Gate, coated in the technicolor of its milky-rich icons. Its colors are so vibrant you can taste them on your tongue, even in memory. I miss the painted walls and ceilings of Notre Dame's basilica, the overabundance of image which crushes you with salvation history, embeds you in a narrative arc in spite of yourself. I miss the outlandish stained glass of St. Vincent, its darkly carved interior, full of quiet corridors of shadow. I allow myself to think for one moment of St. John the Divine, my favorite haunted church. I miss the distracting visuals you can sink your teeth into, which are, in fact the main meal.

Back at the Rancho, I am spellbound by the still and silent hummingbird, hungrily sipping nectar through her beautiful, delicate straw, more like a proboscis than a beak. Her wings which beat more times per minute than my heart are at rest. There is something preternatural in her quiet. I sip coffee and read Nouwen on memory. It's all here, for just a moment, time stops and all the things that are present are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment