Thoroughly Alive

We must hunger after the beautiful and the good...


A Wide Place

Last night I walked with mom and saw the sky empty at dusk. Like a slow tide dying away, the light fell back, back, and the foam of it clung creamy to the blackened hills. Above, the sky curved over the earth like a navy blue crockery bowl and in it, adrift, one diamond and over that a scimitar of moonlight, needle thin. I felt blessed to see again. I need to behold, with flesh and blood eyes, this touchable, tasteable earth. I feel as absent from it as if I had been on a journey to outer space. This summer has helped me to realize that you can get so far into your brain, so lost in your own worries and thoughts, that life, in its dance and bluster around you, falls back, dimmed. I finished a journal recently, glanced through it and realized that most of this year's writing has been of inner debate. The tumblings of my own heart made such a  clamor inside me, I lost sight for all but that. I look back at other journals, from earlier years, and find tales of sunsets and stars, or ordinary hours, or friends, and I know. It is not that small beauties have passed away from my present life, but that I have passd beyond reach of their shelter and dwelt in my own confusion.

Worry is a hot little cave I carve out in myself. None of the outside trouble is changed by the presence of that fretting space within me, but I feel that I can keep some hold on my life, control my problems by giving them a place to live in my heart. Then I get locked in with them. And that hot, black space is the house from which I think and see the world.

Beauty saves me. Like the sky at dusk on my evening walk, some glint of star, or touch of a friend, or note of a song calls me back. Beauty unlocks the black little door in me, and my worries scatter, and I walk out, weak, wide-eyed, into life. And the blue above me is vast as joy and the dark is not choking and hot, but wide and fresh with starlight. My fretting is answered simply by the fact of the hugeness of the earth and sky, the loveliness that exists beyond any touch of my worry. "Taste and see that the Lord is good," says the Psalmist. The miracle is that I can. That God so crafted the world that beauties should abound, that every sense should find joy in this earth, and every joy craft a road we can follow in faith. Not to dark little caves do those roads lead, but to a wide place of peace beyond the edges of the world.