Here, at the edge of deep sleep, one last dream plays, the fragments of yesterday piling into hints of what may come. Time is both frozen and liquid. Everything is saved in its grip and changed.
Soon it will all dim into nothingness and we will drift through blank seas, salty with potential.
And when we wake, it will be into a bright world we’ve never seen before, our arms full of possibilities fished from the long deep.
The mother squirrel paused to look at her gathered stash. It was one of several that she had tucked in the coves at the base of the great spruce by the little pond’s edge. But this one especially pleased her. She would save these, she thought, for the feast on the Day of the Light’s Return.
She liked the way the succulent cones glowed in the afternoon sun, and could almost taste their sticky sweetness as she anticipated the feast.
But the feast was only one day of many when her stash would nourish her, and she knew she still had work to do before the deep snows came. So, with one last glance at this special pile of cones, she turned and scampered off to gather more. She was a wise squirrel, after all, attuned to the seasons, and she liked to be prepared.
November lays her first, thin layer of ice across the pond and reaches into her pallet for one last dab of burnished ochre to brush across its shores. Soon the heavy snows will come, blanketing these last remnants of autumn’s glory. But that will be December’s privilege. Hers has been the task of readying the scene.
The harvest has been gathered. The fur of the creatures has thickened. Their burrows are built, their stores of nuts and seeds assembled and tucked away. All but a few leaves have fallen. She has done her work thoroughly and well.
And now, before she leaves, she paints one last tableau, using the last of her rich, subtle hues. “Farewell, forest,” she whispers as she covers the trees with a subtle mist. “Farewell, little pond.”
And the forest and trees, their hearts brimming with love, whisper to her in return, “Farewell, dear November. Farewell.”
She had thought of herself as no more than a field variety weed. Oh, her life had been pleasant enough, growing in the sunshine, tasting the rain, giving birth to flowers and seeds, sharing stories with her companions. But she had done nothing special or extraordinary, nothing of note.
She wasn’t, in her view, beautiful, compared, say, to a chrysanthemum or a rose. But it didn’t bother her. It had been enough to live her life surrounded by beauty.
She had seen her share of troubles. Many a day, in the midst of the summer’s drought, she had longed for water. Insects had bored into her stem and eaten some of her leaves. There had been times when it was all she could do to keep going.
But the difficulties only opened her heart to the struggles of others, and she did what she could to cheer and encourage her neighbors through their own times of struggle and pain, reminding them that the song of the Great Yes was singing through them still. It wasn’t much; but it was all she could do.
And so, when the last day of her Earth tour dawned, she was astonished to discover that she had been given a snow crown and draped in a dazzling cape. These were given, she knew, to those whose lives had been of great service and value. And she lifted her arms and danced as her spirit departed for home.
Every twig, every branch, every needle and trunk and stem stood at attention, watching the great spruce, their elder.
At his signal, they began vibrating their notes with all their might, sending them forth with from the depths of their very souls.
“Ahhhhhh,” they sang. And the mighty chord of their combined voices rolled across the lake and echoed throughout the woods.
And all the living creatures stopped in their tracks and listened.
“What is that?” a yearling fawn asked its mother, its eyes wide in wonder.
“It’s the tree choir,” the doe answered, “beginning their practice. Soon the sun will complete its northward journey and return with new year’s light.
“And on the day that it begins its return, the forest will sing a great anthem of celebration and praise.”
Then the deer were silent, and listened to the grand, mesmerizing sound as it filled all space with joy.
Here, darlin’; have a spoonful of light. It fell from the sky just this morning. It’s wholly organic with no calories at all. It’s made from the breath of the angels.
I’m told that the mere taste of it will set your spirit free, set you sailing high on happiness.
Isn’t that just like those winged ones, sending a batch of light right as we’re tumbling into darkness? What sweethearts, the way the care for us. It kind of reminds you that you’re loved, don’t you think?
The moment the harvest celebration had ended, as if on cue, the snow began to fall. It floated softly on the still morning air, a signal that the dreamtime was beginning.
Light would begin its final descent into darkness now, and all the little seeds would burrow into earth’s bosom to wait for its return.
Until then, they would sleep, resting and gathering strength for the adventures to which the light would call them.
They had no idea what was before them. Tomorrow wasn’t even on the horizon of their awareness. Right now, all they wanted was to curl themselves deeply into the earth’s comforting warmth.
And so the snow fell softly, and lullabies whispered through the bare branches of the trees.
Never before has this light been quite the same. Never before have eyes beheld this picture now before them.
Nothing is static; the dance of particles goes on, sweeping across the cosmos in kaleidoscopic joy. Forms rise into being, morph, and dissolve into new forms endlessly. And all that remains is the ecstasy of continuous emergence and renewal.
Sing then this Now, this glorious, passing moment. For never before has this light been quite the same.
On this glad day, when hearts touch and hands meet, when bonds are renewed in spite of it all, when eyes speak of love and lips voice warm welcomes, let us lift our arms in praise.
May the sweetness of our gathering soar to the sun and descend to all hearts everywhere, enfolding them in compassion and in joy.
On this glad day, beneath this broad sky, as we gaze at our bounteous fortunes, let us raise our thankful praise.
I’ve heard that, in some dimension beyond our own, whole legions of beings are trained in the School of Celestial Artisans. They spend, I’m told, a thousand years learning to paint with light. And those are just the preliminary lessons.
Eventually they learn to make light whose song you can hear, and music whose colors you can see, and then they create for the seventeen senses that we do not, as mere humans, yet possess. (Although we one day will.)
I thought of them the other day when rays of brilliant grace poured down on the horizon. And when I held my breath, I almost thought I heard a choir magnificently singing “Yes.”