Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wet woods

This afternoon was gray and rainy. My wife and I drove about 25 miles up the Palisades Interstate Parkway, with the famous dog Isabel in the back seat, to Harriman State Park. We parked the car on a random guess in a place we had never been to, and took a trail we knew nothing about.

...It sounds like real life, doesn't it?

The woods were cold and wet, big fat snowflakes spitting down out of a leaden sky. We climbed up a ridge where the tips of blueberry bushes were painted a feathery, fairy white with a clinging layer of snow. At the top of the ridge, hidden from view until the last hundred feet or so, we came across a huge glacial erratic, a granite boulder the size of a small house, resting on top of table rock (that's a term for a flat expanse of bedrock that is left when a glacier scrapes it clean.) Yes, I should have had my camera -- and that should be the picture for today's post -- but I deliberately left the camera in the car, so I would not be distracted by that machine.

And there we were, with a stone.

The erratic was alone. It stood there in monolithic glory, dappled with green lichen, peach feldspar, and smoky gray quartz. This rock has been there since the last ice age; it will be there waiting patiently until the next one.

All around us, water; in front of us, a rock moved by water; we ourselves, mostly water.

When I feel the remorse of my own lack, on my cheeks: water.

No matter where I turn in this wilderness of life, lost in the valley of the shadow of death -- we are all perpetually in that valley, and under that shadow, although we prefer to forget it -- there is always water. One cannot understand Earth or organic life without water. It is what makes the planet uniquely what it is. It can manifest as a single salty teardrop, or a frozen force that moves stones so large I cannot grasp it.

And what happens next in life? There will be another path, unexpected; more water; more stones I did not know of and cannot comprehend.

My work is like that. I need to be prepared for what is unknown, and allow my vessel-- and the water of my impressions -- to support my Being as it meets what I do not know, and cannot understand. This water of which the vessel is made is capable of taking in the most delicate tenderness, and exerting enormous amounts of force, force that can move objects greater than I understand.

...How do I understand that?

Well, the simple fact is that I don't. I have relatively little understanding. The deeper my roots go, and the more my organism sings with life, the less I know and the more I live.

And I think, as I age, that it may be better to live fully and to know nothing, than to know everything, but not live fully.

May our hearts be open, and our prayers be heard.


  1. Following you; you, and I need to talk! Do you know Pierce at the Foundation, or did you know, perhaps, Anson, or Nancy?

  2. I know Pierce. Not sure which Nancy you mean.

    I can be reached by e mail at, Johnny.


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