Friday, February 22, 2008

In silent darkness the day begins

How many times recently have my eyes opened to predawn darkness and a want to keep within the cocoon of blanket warmth, yet I peel off the warmth and enter the cold that only my hurried dress of robe and wool socks. pulled up one at a time and a single wool cap pulled down to cover my chilled ears, then the cold wire-rim spectacles give me farsightedness when my natural nearsightedness was well enough in the still darkness. My hands and fingers give the boot strings the just-right tugs that end with dainty bows, unseen, with cold boots and wool-sock warm feet in battle until a thermal equilibrium is reached. All unnoticed by a mind that dwells not on what need not be dwelled upon, save for a few exaggerated stomps to stimulate a bit more circulation in the feet, I'm out the door and with mindless resolve, point myself toward the east, toward the crescendo of lightness that will halt me in my tracks when night becomes day. Like marching toward an idea, an idea that me and the sun and the earth, for one brief moment, have reached an invisible point, a point only imagined in my mind, a point in time and space, when eyes blinded for want of what feeds them are suddenly fed -- daybreak -- photons flood the landscape and my eyes are fed! And a feast it is, here in the Mojave the Joshua trees are a yardstick for measuring distance, if I can discern the waving limbs of the trees in the far distance, then I know at least that I can reach those trees, in about two hours. In winter or spring, that is, in summer, I wouldn't even try. So here I sit, on a boulder large enough so that I can sit cross-legged, facing the rising sun, eyes closed and heeding the words of Emerson, "Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods." And I wonder what it was like at daybreak on Brook Farm, when the Transcendentalist awoke in a different time, yet in all their idealism they couldn't escape reality. I open my eyes and see the ever present ants trekking about the sand. And me, a solitaire creature atop a boulder, inactive in body, yet mind moving as frantically as these ants scramble, alone, yet with as many memories and stories and meandering thoughts as the number of countless ants I watch. And I watch and wonder, and close my eyes again, and in silence, I pray, thanking the Creator for the gift of wonder. Then I remember something I read about someone that was missing the gift of sight and sound, and Helen Keller said, "Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content." And I feel the morning chill on my face giving way to the warmth of the distant sun. I blink, and sneeze, and am content.


jzr said...

I wonder if the ants take time to contemplate the "all" around them. Even in the rush and trauma of human days, one must take time to be grateful for the tiniest things.

Lucy said...

The desert you create is a real and precious place, immediate, intense, sublime, its cold even more so than its heat. I love every detail of this, not least the putting on of socks and boots!


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