This post began as a sermon before becoming a “Denim Spirit” column in The Finger Lakes Times (NY)
Inspired by the Mary Oliver poem, “Whispers”
Have you ever sat by yourself on the beach at the ocean, or walked along its foaming sands, or stood sentry on a cliff overlooking the broiling brine below? From whatever posture, from whatever distance, have you ever been embraced by the sound of eternity – waves of sound, rushing through the curvatures of your ear, your head now a conch shell still holding the ocean’s echo? Have you ever been embraced by the ocean and the winds and the sand?
Have you ever walked through a dawn meadow and been robed in dew, so that you are fresh and wet all over – gleaming under a new sun? Or in the morning forest that
drips with the moisture of a new day, did you ever look up to see a freshly hung spider’s web gleaming in the light of a single ray? Have you ever been robed in the wetness of such purity?
Have you ever laid flat on your back in the grass under an awning of lights in the night sky, staring – gawking into the endlessness of time? Time, that slipstream of whatever it is, which began so long before you even existed. Have you ever laid there suspended between two endlessnesses, the past and future? Have you ever fallen into timelessness and become infinitesimal?
Have youever sat in the arms of a big easy chair with your eyes closed, holding a fresh human life? Have you ever just rested in the moment with a soft round silken skull snuggled close to your nose while breathing in the aroma of sweetness? Just the two of you resting there, did you drift into sleep and dream of unspeakable beauty? Have you ever been cradled in the power of an infant?
Those kinds of moments are teaming with whispers. Whispers, as if carried by an air force of lightening bugs filling the stillness around us with secret voices that know us by name. Or a single whisper, so quietly wordless yet somehow, we hear it above the noise in our head. No, I am not talking about schizophrenia.
Most of us, most of the time, walk the beach in search of pretty shells or driftwood, and so miss the presence of eternity waiting there for us with open arms. We step awkwardly through the wet grass trying not to get wet, and so we lose the chance to be majestically robed in nature’s breath. Even at night, if we search the blackened sky it is to identify which stars are in what constellation instead of free-falling into timelessness. And how many times did we put that infant down to nap in his or her crib because we had so many things to do that were so much more important than being held in a quiet, holy moment?
Our losses are staggering and we never even suspected.
It is gray, and cold, and rainy. Winter seems impossibly double-exposed onto our spring, both stalling like an old truck going uphill. There is so much to complain about and yet, right here, right now, in every moment, there awaits a whisper of wisdom, a quiet pastel beauty, and thinly veiled holiness. Stop and enjoy some.