This morning dawned bright and cold, – 19 F cold. Lots of evaporative fog over the lake. Major thaw coming later this week?
This morning Jennie left to work in Africa for two weeks. On Twelfth Night*, a couple of days ago, we followed tradition and took down the tree and decorations. Most likely we will continue to find hidden decorations for weeks.
This year we added a snowy owl and a fine St. Nicholas to the ornaments on the tree. The tree, filled with the denizens of land, air, and sea, mirrors our love of the world. It reminds us that the world is more beautiful, complex, and awe-inspiring than we can possibly know.
One of the mysteries of life is the presence of initiatory illness. It’s odd that so many of my teachers and friends had life threatening illness at age seven or eight. My teachers used to tell me that these events open us to the spirit world, and to the profound beauty and mystery of this one. Maybe this is so. I have, since Polio, found the world to be breathtakingly, and heartrendingly, beautifully.
I just looked out the window and saw a large bird flying solo over the lake’s edge. The bird, silhouetted against the gray of lake fog, dipped, flapped once, then headed south, too far away for easy identification.
I find the world to be precious, almost painfully so. In these days when writers proclaim the death of nature I find myself both grieving the destruction of so much I love and fiercely optimistic about the long-term. It seems to me that our belief that we can destroy the planet is pure hubris. I have no doubt we can destroy much, including ourselves as a species, but that is not the same as obliterating nature.
I often wonder whether we look to the natural world for healing, in part, because we know that until the sun’s old age makes the Earth uninhabitable, nature will continue to resiliently populate the world with life. Our Christmas tree reminds us of the fecundity of nature, even as it points to all that is currently endangered. As the World Tree it connects us to all the realms, while holding the reality of loss and suffering and the promise of renewal.
Here, in the Middle World, place of incarnation, place between spirit worlds, we are, individually and collectively, but a moment in the grand experiment of life. How amazing that we can notice our own mortality and still be filled with love and awe for All That Is, especially for the flesh-and-blood others with whom we interact! How mysterious we are! How marvelously unknowable!
*If you would like to know more about Twelfth Night, visit Waverly Fitzgerald‘s blog post about it.