March 21, 2011
When did this happen -
the gardens full of green shoots?
While I was sleeping?
How many times must this happen? How many times must I be lazy? How many times must I choose sleep over vigilance? How many times must I take the easy way out? How many times must I be caught unawares?
Any number of times.
January 26, 2011
Snow muffles my steps.
I surprise a cardinal -
myself – on a branch.
What is surprise?
According to its etymology from my old Webster’s (1985): [ME. surprysen < OFr. surpris pp. of surprendre, to surprise, take napping].
I love this etymology. Surprise is to “take napping,” sleeping to the wonder that is the world. Here walking in the snow, coming around a corner in this gray winter world, I think that I surprise a cardinal who was perched on a branch of the maple tree in our backyard. But the surprise is mine! The cardinal is all awareness, spotting food, friends, danger in the blink of an eye. I am the one caught napping, thinking this is just a gray world. I am the one caught napping, missing this world that is full of such red wonders.
January 10, 2011
blue shadows across white snow
stop my wandering.
In the winter after it snows, necessity requires that I alter my walk home from work, take a less direct path when the fields become impassable and the sidewalks have not been shoveled. Thus I am forced out of the rut I have created and tire tracks or the plowed road becomes my new trade route. When routine is disrupted, a new opportunity is given to me to see things for the first time again.
Everything we have seen before in our life becomes a kind of cataract that blinds us, that blurs our vision, that prevents us from seeing when we look. Watch a baby crawling across the floor exploring anything and everything with transfixed fascination and wonder. How do we unlearn our habits of looking and recapture that baby vision which sees everything as new, everything as wonderful, everything as divine?
How does one see the extraordinary as extraordinary again? Here, strangely enough, death can be a friend. Remember the expression on Ivan Ilyich’s face as his colleague Peter Ivanovich views him in his coffin in Leo Tolstoy’s novella (Alymer Maude’s translation): “The expression on the face said that what was necessary had been accomplished, and accomplished rightly. Besides this there was in that expression a reproach and a warning to the living. This warning seemed to Peter Ivanovich out of place, or at least inapplicable to him” [ch. i]. How many more times will I have the chance to see blue shadows on white snow? to see the light shine this way?