Monday, January 19, 2009

The tree with the lights in it

I'm just your basic wannabe mystic, I'll admit. But I've slowly been reading my way back though the works of Annie Dillard, whose writing I first encountered while teaching Freshman English. Now, Annie seems like a true mystic to me, and I never get tired of her muscular prose and her visionary approach to the world. My favorite of her books, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, has a fascinating chapter entitled, "Seeing." At the end of this chapter she describes an experience of seeing the "tree with the lights in it":

I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed. It was less like seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance. The flood of fire abated, but I'm still spending the power. Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells unflamed and disappeared. I was still ringing. I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck. I have since only very rarely seen the tree with the lights in it. The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, for the moment when the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Winter is finally here ...

Winter has settled in here in the mid-Atlantic -- with a cold thump.

I just learned that the low in North Dakota was -44 degrees this morning! So I guess we can't complain about our projected low of +9 tomorrow morning.

The dogs don't care much for the cold, however. When I put them out in the yard, they stand and look at each other, as if puzzled. What is she thinking, putting us out in weather like this? She wants us to do what?

Now if we could just get some snow. About two feet would be fine -- enough to shut down my place of employment for a day or two. I love being snowed in!

Snow, please!

Friday, January 02, 2009

A New Year, a clean slate ...

Notice that I'm not using the word resolutions ... this is more like a plan. Plans suggest flexibility, fluidity, adjustment. Resolutions suggest, well ... resoluteness. None of that here! But I am hopeful, even if not resolute! So here we go!

  1. Listen more; talk less. Pray more; talk less. Stop whining when you do talk.
  2. Lose the remaining weight. 23 pounds is good, but it's not enough to be healthy. So keep dieting. Stop at 115. Then have a hoagie.
  3. When you get to 115, go on a cruise with J.
  4. Don't worry that there is no money for a cruise (or for anything else).
  5. Save the chardonnay for Friday and Saturday. Your waistline will thank you. Your liver will be ecstatic.
  6. Do NOT check on your 403b(7) retirement account several times a day. Check it only on Friday night. Wash down with abovementioned wine if needed.
  7. Spend more time with friends. What're you saving vacation days for? You have no money to travel with!
  8. Carry a dollar in your jeans pocket when you go to work. Someone might need it more than you do.
  9. Politics (including church politics) is so last year! Get over it.
  10. Go on more retreats, including a silent retreat.

Well, there you have it, the ten parts of the plan. All are good, commonsensical ideas. We'll see if I can manage them!