The day doesn’t know that it is the last one in November. It doesn’t think itself significant in any way.
But because it hangs there, at the end of my calendar, I want to hold on to it, to stretch out its moments, to make it take its time.
It has its own time, of course. But my mind can stretch its blues and grays, its bare branches and still unfrozen pond, even as the first snowflakes drift down from the sky.
Until the sun no longer shines in the sky and the earth no longer spins, grace will fall.
It will usher the last leaf from the last tree, wash the last wave to the last shore, and kiss the last eyelid as it closes.
Endings are not its business. To grace, they are nothing more than turnings in time. They carry neither the sadness nor that finality that accompanies them in human dreams.
Grace falls, wrapping all things in its tenderness, simply because it is the outer edge of love’s constant whisper. It welcomes all things into being. It carries them beyond time’s end.
I want to live inside the grass, to feel what it is to curve, just so, in the wind. I want to be inside its thin blades, one side sun-warmed, the other cool, with the long tall stems rising above me with all their light seeds.
I want to know the joy of their dance, of their strength, of their suppleness, even when their prime has passed and their green is gone and they are dry yet curving in the wind and hearing the song of the seeds dancing in the air above them like a thousand birds.
And I want to be the thousand birds, waiting to fly, waiting for just the perfect moment, just the perfect breeze, and in the meantime singing to the blades below because they curve so gracefully in the sun.
Yes, yes. On this late November day, as I stand at the edge of the wetlands listening to the wind, I want nothing more than to be the grass curving in afternoon sun.
It was crowded in their section of the woods. In the summer, when the leaves were full, the little ones had to do with very little light. And they had to learn to push their branches upward because there was little room to stretch out.
Most of the young ones accepted their situation as the natural order of things. But on one particularly warm spring day, one of them started to complain.
Just then, two young humans came to sit in the shade at the edge of the woods right beside him. One of them opened a book she was carrying and said to the other, “Here it is. It’s from Madame Curie; it’s exactly what I was trying to say.” And then she read him this:
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”
“You see?” she said. “We have to believe that we have a gift and keep going until we find it. That’s what drives us forward. I know that it’s frustrating when we don’t know what that gift is. But we have to keep going until we find out.”
The two of them talked a while longer and then they wandered on. But their words stayed with the young tree, and led him to believe that his discomfort had a purpose that would make it all worthwhile.
He stretched a little higher and raised his branches more. A robin came and built a nest in them and he watched the babies hatch and learn to fly.
When autumn came and all the leaves had fallen, the young tree looked about him and noticed how tall he had grown. He saw the nests of grass beneath him where the deer took refuge from the hunters and the cold winds and the rabbits burrowed. And as he stood there, the late afternoon sun warming his bark, he felt a stirring deep within in his core, and he recognized his gift and was proud.
Both he and his wife, she told me, were avant garde pianists, gifted with a remarkable and rare ability to read random visual patterns as if they were sheet music.
They would sit at twin pianos and someone would project on the wall a photo of some colorful abstract painting or design. Immediately the two of them would begin to play, translating the piece into wondrous melodies that perfectly captured its mood. She had heard them herself, she said.
I thought of her story when I saw the berries, their reds sprinkling the woods with cheer. So bright and merry were they that I could almost imagine how their melodies would dance across a keyboard, joy notes, ringing out their sheer delight in being.
Maybe on other dimensions, they read the patterns of our lives as music. Do you suppose? Just in case, let’s write long passages of wonder and of joy for them—little love notes, in celebration of our being.
If you carefully watch you can catch them. Of course they freeze in place the moment they feel your eyes. But even then, you can tell they were dancing.
Today, for instance, I thought I caught a glint of movement off to my left. I turned my head quickly; the music in the air led me to suspect what they were up to. But by the time I spotted them, they were still.
Nevertheless, it was clear that the tall ones were ushering the delicate ballerina onto the stage. Just look how they are bowing. Look at the way their limbs in her direction. And she was simply made to pirouette. Why, I could almost see her spin.
Past what we know, beyond the measurable edges of things, the Watchers dwell, enfolding all they observe in their love.
Nothing escapes their notice. The rising and falling, the coming in and going out of things, all that occurs within time and all that transcends it stretches beneath their gaze.
They see the patterns; they comprehend the meanings. Every movement matters and is a part of Being’s bliss and is always fresh and new.
And they take it all in, and it adds to their joy as it unfolds and unfolds and unfolds.
Often our thank-yous are simple courtesies, lightly tossed in recognition of small favors bestowed. They like that, the way the mere mention of them oils our civil relations. They smile at the way all the childhood training took root, and they are grateful themselves for the countless times mothers and fathers urge the little ones to utter them. (You have no idea the delight they feel when a child speaks them for the first time without prompting.)
But when our thank-you’s come from a deeper place, when they float from our lips on a breath of true sincerity, what a glow the thank-yous take on.
And when they rise from our heart of hearts, when they are drenched in selflessness and the golden light of love, and awe, and appreciation, the thank-yous reverberate with the song of the Great Yes and roll without ceasing to the very edges of eternity.
One shining gesture of cheer can illumine the deepest gloom. One act of kindness, or courage, can revive hope that’s fading away.
Think of the power you hold. One act of grace. One smiling glance, one touch, one word.
Think of the easiness of giving. Think of the simplicity. You could be the spark. You could light the flame. You could be the one that saves somebody’s day.
One shining gesture can illumine the deepest gloom. Let it be yours; let it be you.
The day is as soft as velvet. Except for the bubbling creek, the only sound is the splash of raindrops on the fallen leaves. I pause between steps to listen. I feel the breadth of the air stretching all the way to the distant hills.
The scent of the wet earth and of the leaves is a sweet perfume, light and pungent. I breathe it in and as I exhale, I see my breath form a slight vapor in the cold air and then dissolve.
A few miles down the road, the stores bulge with fevered shoppers. The wheels of their metal carts clatter on the tiles as they push their holiday agendas down the aisles. Price readers beep. Children plead for candy.
But here, in the midst of the golden hours, the glow of the brush and the sycamore leaves flows through my eyes, and there is only the creek and the rain.