Tuesday, December 28, 2010

on a winter's day

Today was a travel day.  All day.  Searched and re-searched.
First plane.  Plane stuck on tarmac.  
No time to grab a bite between flights.  
Another plane.  Luggage delay.  
Car.  Car stuck on I-65.

Filter out the irritations.  I crossed a continent in five hours.
Granted, the time spent in lines, waiting for a jet to move, 
and backtracking from Charlotte to Birmingham
almost doubled the actual travel time.
If I were a time traveller, however,
I'd refrain from telling my woes to, say, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

One nap and then I began to write.  
Wrote from one end of the country to another.
Didn't notice that three babies were crying 
until another passenger mentioned this fact.
Several times.
Louder than the babies.

Air travel is great for people watchers.
And eavesdroppers.  Writers call this research.
Nevertheless, the experience provides 
a unique opportunity to practice civility, 
to think about loving one's neighbor,
even when she snores.
Rather than fight the inevitable,
sit back and muse.


Act Three [written]
Lavish arrivals for some, the hope of work for others…promises in gestation.  
Act One
The last landfall
Act Two
A new script
Past the proscenium, through a scrim, beyond a black drapery
Dreams dissolve

The picture of the harbor at Cobh, formerly Queenstown, shows the site where the Titanic last took on passengers. Too large to pass through the harbor entrance, the great ship weighed anchor just beyond the narrow opening.  The last to board were ferried to the Titanic in small boats.  I regretted the blurry snapshot made especially for my son.  The discovery of the ship's wreckage when he was five had captivated his imagination.  Yet, in the mist of the photograph, I can imagine a gossamer silhouette of the great ship and ghostly whispers of last farewells, ethereal reminders of a bygone era.

My childhood was spent in a hot humid landscape of gentle, rolling hills bordered by pine woodlands.  Flat beaches of white sand, the marshes of Glynn, and ancient oaks, with their moss-draped branches that brushed the ground of the tranquil Georgia coast, quietly seduced.  But the raw, rugged beauty of distant seaside cliffs called to a young girl, a desire that hinted inexplicably of homecoming.  Decades later, I finally climbed to the edge of the Cliffs of Moher.  Struggled to stand against the force of the gale that raged.  But a quiet grew within as the waves lashed and the gusts howled.  Below me, the show of millenniums:  perpetual creation born of erosion.  

My carefully scripted life long scrapped, I found strength in the fierce landscape.  Maria Harris writes that "Native Americans describe spirituality as having a 'moist heart,' perhaps because native wisdom knows the soil of the human heart is necessarily watered with tears.  And that tears keep the ground soft.  From such ground new life is born."  Life pounds us.  We are diminished.  Watered with tears.   Void of expectation. Rent by sorrow, made open by the tearing.  Open to love.  

Such a miracle, love.  Not for or from a single individual but a state of being.  This absolute that does not grow but arrives complete.   That whispers, shouts, "I cannot be quantified.  I AM!"  Ah, to live in the presence of the gift, each day an unwrapping.  To be grown by the great I AM.  Love demands only that we wait.  Wait upon it with all our senses and know the full measure.  Listen.  Watch.  Keep the channel open.  Cede to the death of self and let go.  

"Celeste," the older woman said one afternoon, "you just can't please some people.  Say to yourself, 'Your opinion of me is none of my business' and let it go.  Jesus said, 'Love - not please - your neighbor.  To live otherwise is to use people for personal gratification.  And be grateful for everyone you encounter," she continued.  "Not just those who treat you well, whom you respect.  But everyone.  Each is a teacher.  Some mirror good choices; others, the consequences of bad ones.  All instruct."  

Perspective.  Patience.  Respect for others.  Humility.  Praise.  Peace.  Prayers.  For the broken ones.  For those who cannot give love because they cannot receive it.  

I can be grown by love.  If I so choose.

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