The mornings are dark and trimmed with frost of late. On Friday I stood out back and watched my breath tendril up into the slow approaching dawn. The crescent moon was on the wane and smiled shyly at me as I caught the scent of light slowly undoing the night. The wind is beginning to loosen the leaves a little more each day and the hillsides lush with color are beginning to undress. On Thursday at work, I spoke with a patient’s family member who had driven up from Lewisburg to visit.
“How are the leaves down there?” I asked.
With a sad smile she said, “They are just about gone.” Then she spoke to her loved one about the blazing glory the Maples made in the back yard.
Grief pooled at the corners of his eyes as she gave to him her word pictures. This is what the deep ones mourn—not the loss of limb or weakness of body, but the theft of time. They grieve the sudden pulling of their lives out from under them; how they must abandon all that gives joy to tend to their physical needs for a season.
I try to return these moments to them, point out the beauty available right here, right now. The pulse of life still beats strongly under the roof of the hospital. The losses they have suffered seem to tender their heart and open its door wide to all the losses over the course of life. A rare few recognize the gift in their tears—this drawing near to the holy, to the things that matter most.
I learn from their bravery, how best to view the moments of my days. In autumn, the longing looms large, just as C.S. Lewis said. I cry when I see the birds flock across the sky, the sudden lift of their wings birthing anew within me the awareness of my feet of clay—I am earthbound.
In my reading this morning, Diane Ackerman tells me, “One of the first words we think humans spoke, recorded in Indo-European as pleu, meant: It flies! It is an ancient longing.”
I long for flight of many kinds but mostly, I want to touch the sky, to scoop her blue in my cupped hands and carry it home. Is there a way to carry the sky inside of me? In his poem “Two Stranger Birds in Our Feathers,” Mahmoud Darwish says, “ … spread over me an endless blue wing … “
This is what I want too—to be lost in the ecstasy of a love so great I lose all sense of self but become one with earth and sky and sun and star. Overshadowed by mystery.
This is Love. This is Faith. I let these longings lead me deeper into the heart of God.