All around me, signs of thirst: from geese gulping oily riverwater, to empties strewn over the decaying mulch of the forest floor. The day was gray and cold, not conducive to cheerful, green thoughts. Rain threatened to fall, then fell. The ground drank it up. The landscape was monochrome. Wet sepia. Trash drew the eye like jewels in mud.
I wandered off trail, through a warren of spent beer cans. It was the site of an old homeless camp. The suitcases and tent are long gone, but the site is a favorite destination for those who thirst. Torn paper, scattered in the mud, attracted my attention. I squatted: neat letters on wet pages torn from a calendar. Reina de los
and, on a nearby scrap, profetas and apostoles .
It was the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, torn into scraps and strewn like rose petals at the foot of an altar of mud and beer cans. The Blessed Mother, the comforter of the afflicted. This was a place of affliction, of thirst. The long groan of the dirty river rushing past, the anguished honking of geese. I crouched at the bank: from my left, a press of water charging me, to my right fleeing me. Stiff clumps of foam shuddering in the shallows. The smell of oil and composting leaves.
I kept hearing echoes of Rowan Williams' Resurrection book: before you identify with the suffering, crucified Christ, the purely innocent Victim, identify with His persecutors. Be forgiven and then forgive. See Christ in the blank face of the child molester being led off to jail as well as in the injured child. I twisted to photograph the pure white marrow of a snapped twig. A quick, odd pain shot into my right leg. I sighed.
I thought of the dream I had before waking the other day. I was seated at a bar, about to drink whiskey with soy ice cream in it. Remembering, I smiled. A dream of thirst, of hunger. Oddly enough, giving up soy ice cream this lent has been relatively easy, unlike last year when I lasted 3 days. And I don't drink. I woke out of the dream before downing the odd concoction. I can still see it, cool white floating in amber. Like the summer treat my mother used to make: ice cream in ginger ale.
I could pray to Mary, I think. I could cry Hail, Star of the Sea ! and
O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria.
Small droplets were beginning to bead my camera. I headed back to the path, through the brown, green-streaked,
tear-flecked thirsty woods. I was cold, thirsty. I hadn't given up coffee, and I could really use a cup.