How to love the Trinity, its vagueness, non-sense, God talking to God on the cross? Theological geometry, stumper of metaphor, God humbled to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Only when I heard that voice singing Our songs shall rise to thee did I feel a welling of love that, at best, visits me occasionally in prayer, indwelling and expanding within me. Yes, God, the darkness hideth thee. Too often as I sit in the pews, nothing happens. Or worse, Nothing happens, doubt a scrim over every word I pray, a tepid mutter of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But that hymn’s falsetto, surrender, the not- knowingness of it—Lord, though I can not see, I did hear a shimmer, some wick in me caught fire, and fear, that liar, left me, momentarily, free in the Holy, music, the blessed Trinity.
Come darling, sit by my side and weep. I have no lyre, no melodious voice or chant. I meditate on the Zion I could never grant you. My son, my roe deer, my rock-rent stream. My honeysuckle, my salt, my golden spear. Forgive me your birth in this strange land. I wanted your infant kisses, your fists clasped round my neck. I craved you, though you were born in the wake of my illness, my dim prognosis. I was selfish: I willed you this woe, this world. You inherited exile for my sake.
In the crate of ornaments not to be touched, rested in cotton my mother’s golden walnuts: glass, thinner than egg shells, easily shattered. She hung them from the boughs herself.
Real nuts, we ate on Advent evenings, sitting round the burning wreath, cracking hazelnuts and almonds, peeling tangerines. My father split the walnuts single-handed, then let us root out gnarled halves and pieces. Each nut, a mystery beneath its sealed shell.
I hate mysteries, my son proclaims one day. And yet, he sits all season snapping nuts, gathering pecans from the back lawn, separating the green and black or gnawed.
The tools—a toothed and silver hinge, a screw and lever, assorted picks—he places on the table. Some of the harvested will be rotten, some unripe. The best emerge from cocoons as rich as butter, most in shards and others whole. All of these will be put to use in pies and bread.
He works quietly, entirely focused on the task. On the oilcloth, a pile of husks easily swept away, and the delight of knowledge, gleaming brown and full of grace as a new pair of shoes.