Tag: nature

Humbled by Shadow

Today, I am in awe, and the teleological majesty of our Universe strikes me with wonder.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch our moon eclipse the sun in-person, but I was witness to several renderings on television that still brought tears to my eyes.

My husband, who I shook out of bed and forced to come downstairs and watch, was also in awe, but he wondered aloud what it was that got people so riled up. On camera, thousands of people at each sighting were screaming and cheering, some in absolute stunned silence. I was sitting on the couch with a coffee in my hands and was dissolving in a puddle of tears of joy and wonderment.

What is it? This thing that fills us up and compels us to scream and shout to the heavens, what substance filters through the air to our brains and makes us jump on our feet? It can’t be articulated very easily with science, I don’t think. Sure, a scientist could tell you what joy is and why we experience it, but why did thousands of people come to one place and lose themselves as the moon perfectly aligned with our star and left us in twilight?

I think, as my husband later described, something as impossibly precise and perfect and stunning as an eclipse is a big ol’ “I love you.” I have a hard time conceiving how we could live in a Universe so precise and breathtaking that manifested on its own. Imagine, the Earth is spinning at thousands of miles per hour on its own axis, its poles drawing ellipses in space as it wobbles, and the moon does its own rotation around the Earth and revolves on its own axis. Even greater than this, both us and our moon circle the sun at thousands of miles an hour, still, on a gigantic ellipse, sometimes near and sometimes far from this compact ball of heat and radiation. Better yet, if we’re really lucky, we get to witness a point in which we are so perfectly in line with the celestial entities which regulate the natural processes of our Earth that one completely covers the other and a ring of fire at thousands of degrees encircles our moon and blinks its very precise cast of shadow.

It’s beyond my imagination and ability to understand, frankly. I took an Earth science class in which, I’m not ashamed to admit, I cried in class more than once just learning about this place that sustains and amazes us. I know not everyone has the love affair with the Earth and Nature that I do, but today, hundreds of thousands of people and maybe millions of people stared at the same stretch of sky and screamed for joy at the majesty of creation.

It can’t be explained or quantified or discounted. Something so incredible and bigger than us made us feel about the size of a pin-prick in the backdrop of our Universe, and we LOVED IT.

Today for a couple of hours, all of our petty, (and sometimes not-so-petty) issues didn’t matter. Today, we were all under the same sky, subject to the same laws of Nature, and wondering at how lucky we are to be alive. Perhaps that’s part of it, too. We were one, and we felt unified again. It is rare to feel at one with the rest of humanity, but today, we were in awe together, and we felt grateful to be here.

I agree. Today was a great big “I love you,” and I felt a touch of timeless divinity. I imagine that whatever Creator put things into motion must love us because an ambivalent God wouldn’t put such care into the mechanics of our lives. If not, then my puny human brain can’t help but love It, this God, for the purity of a spirit that can put things like a first-person witness to the workings of astronomy into motion.


Silence

Silence is sacred.

She is a ready patience, waiting for the opportunity to be allowed in; She is healing that permeates every clogged, porous cell, stamped dark with the noise of fruitlessness; She is cooling breath on the back of a hot neck, pulsing with angry blood, emotional blood which runs through the brain and into impetuousness. She acts like a cool rag, dampening the heat, healing the visceral wound. She settles over you like calm, blots away impurities like peace. She is sacred. She is ignored.

Though she vies for entry into the collective mind, it buzzes too loudly to sense her outside. It plays its music over the loud speakers in an attempt to numb the perpetual turnings of the sharp cogs, rusted and wretched for revolving too hard and too fast for too long.

She waits, still, outside of bookstores when even the monologue of a well-written page isn’t loud enough to overcome the music. She waits, where grocery carts and milk cartons need distracting from: music is the new silent. She waits, replaced, as desperately churning brains pump music in, trying to focus harder, trying to focus better, while she wishes so fervently that they would know she could do better. She would do better than the noise.

For those that sit, for those that find her in her readiness, they find her inextricable other face. They find that they can listen, that they hear themselves clearer than they ever have, and that they are smarter and more creative than they thought. She reminds them that they are worth listening to, as are the people around them. She reminds them that they don’t need to be afraid of her, for she is not ominous. Silence is accompanied by many noises which make up the panoply of life.

While one shuts off her own voice long enough to listen to the crooning of the world, Silence delights in her tearful acknowledgement of Nature’s music. Silence watches her breathe deeper and steadier, and to the girl, all worldly noises seem louder, seem unnecessary after their brief, but poignant encounter. It is sacred; it is claimed and protected; it is not to be brutalized.

Those that commune with Silence find the world raucous and disrespectful. To find one’s voice so pleasing that it can’t cease is an egregious crime. To find music so necessary to comfort in a quiet room is an expression of fear.

Silence does not blame the wounded for being fearful of the quiet, but she does wish them to give it a try and rediscover their own genius in the stillness.


The Wind, The Trees, and Me

The wind is not soft, here.

In the tree-dense state of Arkansas, moisture sits on the wind, ready to soothe its subtle attacks to your person. The summer purges impurities from you by a step out of the door, yet the winter, inexplicably kissing your nostrils and bitten lips with its frost is intolerable. Neither, exactly welcoming, are better than the dry, merciless wind of the panhandle where trees don’t greet you on your walks and tumbleweeds are as common as crows.

I used to miss the mercilessness of the wind, drying whatever perspiration touched my brow before it had the chance to peer out onto my face. I used to think that perhaps the wind kept me from the claustrophobic stillness of a state which must rely on only their own movement for the cooling of their sweat. Now, I am not a friend of the winds here, and they aren’t mine. Even the water is dry enough to scrape the oils from my hair, to prick the sensitive skin on the ends of my fingertips so that I must suck on them just for sake of picking up a bottle of lotion.

I used to think, and perhaps still do, that the vast openness of the sky was a comfort. The endless expanse of light blue, often barely spotted with clouds, more beautiful cover having been blow away by a gust, experiences the greatest chameleon color change on the planet, as far as I’m convinced. At the rising of the sun and the melancholic setting of it, the peace of the vast skies remedies its day-time largeness. Its largeness, too long and too wide for my human eye to feel comfortable with.

At least in Arkansas, one can only glimpse the sunset over the dimmed silhouettes of houses and trees. Everything is colored and swept over in darkness, and I am cradled in the middle of it all, not to be lost in the largeness.

I am diversified–I am cultured by my landscape. On whims of magnificence, I write poems about frogs which sing loudly into the night, I smile at memories of rocking chairs out of reach of the fat droplets of rain, and I attempt, often in vain, to do justice to the wildlife which take shelter in the lush grasses and healthy trees of the state. I glimpse them crossing into our urban storehouses for abandoned food. I glimpse them, dead, pancaked on the pavement, and I weep for them. Because, how beautiful? Not their deaths, nor their humiliation, no. It is their majestic creation, the tightened band of black across their eyes and stripes down their tails, the skittering about in fallen nuts, our paranoid squirrels, gathering and eating like mad to make way for a long winter, the galloping, entrancing doe whose white, cotton-ball tail waves goodbye as it leaps in front of my car to join her mother…I praise the environment which spawns such works of creation for me to glimpse, to write of, to attempt to understand.

I wonder, as I leaf through my poems, cringing at some, dog-earing others, what a habit we have of dependence on the world to reveal itself as our muse. These glimpses, to me, are God-borne revelations as to the surprising authority of our scavengers, our wild. How desperate I am for these revelations, because, what of me is magnificent enough for paper? What of me is authoritative enough for immortalization? For those times when I find myself bereft, empty of the things which I see in the fruitful landscape, for those times when I feel like the dry wind, the yellow plains with only fat, flying balls of dead matter…I try to find that authority. I write it down. I mark it out. I never breathe a word to anyone.

Definitely, I never breathe a word to anyone.