They will not see me, living out of sight down the hill, the white-robed army of monks at prayer, the makers of incense and beds and meals with the smell of God about them.
They might feel me step into their pilgrimage, balancing between the jagged and the smooth stones, paying homage to the rock borders that turn me closer in, farther out, maddeningly away from the center.
This is no way to live a life. How many times have they made these very turns in their cloister, no labyrinth to guide them but only the vague inner nudge?
It is the place where tortuous and torturous merge. I take half an hour; they use half their lives. And for what? A pile of rocks in the center, a single life well lived?
The question, maybe, gives us pause. It does not stop that inexorable pull, like undertow sent to immolate a swimmer beneath the waves,
or the ineffable peace that spreads with every step.
A friend of mine has an idea for teaching youth about sex: have them view one of those graphic birthing videos that the hospital has for first-time parents, the kind that shows the crowning and the afterbirth, the agony and the joy. The kids will get the idea.
Up north, my wife, Felice, slipped away with emphysema, and my work cruised on without me—accounts balanced, mortgages afloat. My sleep done down here in Florida, I stand looking out a darkened window no one’s looking in. The morning paper never comes too soon with its rites of scandal and opinion. I finger my few stocks’ shifting fractions, consult the weather map’s puzzle,
while the percolator gurgles and sighs. I wait for the light, wait for that moment when Felice appears, pouring my cream, easing my bitterness by asking, “Where will you go today, and who will you carry?”
First, use four similes to describe the lake: Grinnell Lake is like . . . a threshold . . . a turquoise . . . wings arching open . . . a nest.
+++ At the end of the boardwalk over red-rock streams, beyond the suspension bridge, the waterfall, the long hike, my feet on fire empty into the lake: home. Icy aqua iridescence, perfection of mountains, these trees.
Now use four metaphors: the lake is . . . reality . . . exquisite balance . . . a window . . . a cup filled with sky.
+++ In the lobby of the grand hotel miles below hang beautifully framed old photos. Grinnell Glacier, a wisp above us now, was enormous a century ago, its lake many times smaller.
How can we protect the earth but by drawing close, by falling in love? The lake is the glacier melting too fast. The lake is the waters from Jesus’ pierced side. The lake is the face of the love that saves us. How can we love the earth but by falling . . . in?
A copy of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book published in America, will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s and is expected to bring between $15 and $30 million, making it the most expensive book ever sold. One of two copies owned by Old South Church in Boston, it is one of only 11 remaining copies published. The proceeds will be used to help replenish Old South’s endowment once $7 million of it is used for deferred maintenance. The church historian resigned over the congregation’s decision to sell one of its treasures, but the rest of the congregation overwhelmingly supported the decision (New York Times, November 15).