Saturday, May 21, 2011


One day of sun after seven of rain, drizzle, fog, downpours and dampness is enough to turn the mind toward summer.

I spent the morning weeding and digging and planting along the front walk of the big, old stone church on Main Street. Passersby waved and greeted, and one joined in the weeding, all seeming pleased at being alive in a world where there are flowers and sunshine and people with whom to share that pleasure.

We watched a knotted earthworm unknot itself, a clever patient thing indeed. I planted countless gangly fussy pansy-like plants in a circle.

I could have: kept my dental appointment, sang with the Real Choir ™ At Trinity, Boston, at the confirmation service, or, of course, stayed home, recluse that I am. As I am likely a better weeder than I am chorister, I opted for the soil.

And summer. I do tend to loathe it, the heat, the thronged world -- but, at least today, I look toward it with equanimity. Open windows, a line of storms in the west, 49 degrees overnight -- equanimity, interest, gratitude.

And the spring's well underway at the river, the dear, dirty river I've much neglected of late. The mustards are already going to seed. The geese are relaxing in the shallows. Mushrooms and knotweed are in their heyday, and grasses are putting out their seedheads like mad.

All these common things, nothing special, nothing exotic or rare, just everyday life on earth, this subtle miracle in whose midst we live, subtle miracles ourselves.

On days like this once can almost stop fretting, interrogating, deconstructing, translating, anguishing, languishing, analyzing, meditating, cogitating, ruminating, debating, and even waiting. It's all here, right now. What more can one want ?

Well, of course, one always wants more. Wants beyond. Wants between and inside. One feels oneself behind glass, in vitro, apart. No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind, as the sutra says. We construct the world as it constructs us.

So we're left with stories, organs, heaps; we hold on, and we let go.

We bestow names, it's all we can do sometimes. We feel compelled to indicate to one another that we're in this thing together, this big mystery, this round dance of creation, redemption and sanctification. The nights, even the summer nights, are dark and extend forever in all directions.

Eliot wrote of midwinter spring; there is also midsummer winter. But, then again, to paraphrase the sage badly, firewood is firewood and ash is ash.

It's odd how it works, this two faced world. On the one hand it can seem brute and nauseating facticity, the vertiginous thrownness of being-here-at-all, occasion of anguish and despair. But shift your gaze just a bit and the old hag becomes the young woman: everything is grace, gift, awesome, amazing and wondrous.

Not to be ageist, of course. There's nothing like squatting for 30 minutes to induce one's knees to remind one of the ravages of la fuite du temps. The hag is as awesome and wondrous as the debutante, ash and firewood, each abiding in itself.

Anguish and gratitude, each wondrous and complete, and abiding in itself.

That's the genius of the Trinity -- it's like a United Nations of Being. Numinous ground and source, sure, but there has to be an accounting for that which perceives and constructs and relates -- to ground and to one another -- like, as Sherwood Anderson said of love, a wind.

The sun is lower, now, and the prematurely opened windows will soon need to be shut.

It's likely that the rain will remain in the west until after nightfall, and then it will water my circle of gangly pansies -- violas ? -- under the magnolia tree in front of the old stone church.

It feels a little like mercy.

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