There must be a sutra that fits this mess: lumps of melting snow —markers of impermanence. Once the unspoiled beauty of fields of cotton, ski slope, starlit sky—now shoveled and ploughed, siphoned inward by sun and gravity. Old snow with all the elegance of gun-metal helicopter blades churning overhead. Soot-smudge tattoos on berms of it, foot-stomped reminders of imperfection, dirty laundry.
Only listen for hymn-licks in the slap of slush from tires, birdsong layered in like a gospel round. Then join in, scanning twigs of gray-barked trees for bud sprits— that first portent of spring.
I don’t tell you how much it matters to me that you are my friend. I’ll never tell you, bluntly and face to face. I can’t summon words That way. They only come to my fingers occasionally if I’m silent And give up thinking. Our fingers are a lot smarter than we know. Like today when my fingers want to say something like: your gifts To me have been ears and humor. We speak some strange language That few other people speak. I don’t know why that’s so. It’s surely An accident. It’s not like we set out to find each other in the tumult Of this sweet wilderness. But we did somehow. You can put names On the finding if you want. The names all mean the same thing. An Old name is Providence, which is another way to say God, which is A way to say We Have No Idea How, But We Are Aware of Grace. There are more names for God than we’ll ever know, and one is you.
Count on the faith that links us as we pray, about odd things in each other’s lives, nothing ruinous —a lost ring, an aching tooth. Even a request that we forget after a casual pledge: I’ll be sure to pray for you, words spoken as we chat at the store —they form a filament of gold, forged in heaven, that loops around us. Even careless phrases spoken through air hold firm, are heard, and may be answered. A cough that won’t give up, a missing check, a migraine that suspends us, waiting, held in the loop of prayer.
Study war no more
Mar 18, 2011
Michael Izbicki grew up in a nondenominational church in California. A National Merit Scholarship finalist, he chose to go to the U.S. Naval Academy out of a sense of duty to his country during a time of war. At the naval academy he began to doubt whether the career to which he had committed himself could be squared with the tenets of just war doctrine. He got in trouble when he responded no to this exam question: "If given the order, would you launch a missile carrying a nuclear warhead?" After a four-year legal battle, the navy discharged him as a conscientious objector. Izbicki may have to reimburse the service for part or all of his education (New York Times, February 22).