Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Afternoon Thoughts

A couple of quick things today. (Even if I finish the next part of the spiritual journey series, I won't be posting it tonight--this one is hard to write, and deserves some discernment time when I eventually do finish it.)

First off: I've been reading through a couple of the blogs I was following closely all summer. I hate that I don't have the time to stay up-to-date on all the Pagan and Quaker writers I love... but I'm very happy to notice that many of those same writers feel a bit like old friends who I may not see for months or even years on end, but who somehow I can always settle back into intimacy with.

Reading through the comments on one Quaker blog today, noting the level of honesty and openness I find there, I found myself thinking, "I love (insert name here)."

And this is about a person I have never met.

Does this make me unrealistic? Some kind of boundaryless freak?

I don't think so. Sure, if I had to live with and wash dishes with a lot of the men and women I love and admire as writers, I'd have plenty of chances to get to know their perhaps many human faults and failings. I'm sure we'd bump up against each other and feel pain, because that's just how humans seem to be.

But, see, I think love is never the illusion. Yeah, we're all capable of projecting our illusions onto others at times--but I think that simple, happy, unpossessive sense of simply loving another person in the moment is not a projection, but rather, a rare moment of clarity--a kind of grace, even.

The times we're too pissed off to deal with the complexity of it all--those are the times we're caught up in the illusion. Not that it's not gonna happen, because it is--we'll reach the limits of our merely human capacity to see clearly, whether due to fatigue or hurt feelings or disappointed desires or (favorite Britishism coming up) sheer bloody-mindedness. And we won't see through the eyes of love. (Hmmm... I'm realizing this thought has more to do with the Felicia Hardy posts than I thought at first blush.)

But the loving glimpse of the other is the real one. The rest is when we're seeing "through a glass, darkly."

Right. So, that was Afternoon Thought #1.

Afternoon Thought #2 arose driving home with our Indian exchange teacher in the car. He has never seen a New England autumn, so he's pretty much blown away by the fall foliage. He's never seen a maple tree or an oak tree or a white pine before this year... and our winding, hilly road to and from work takes us past some extraordinary stands of forest.

I get to see all of this through new eyes, because he is in the car with me. And I loved it a lot already with the old eyes, I can tell you.

So here's the thought I had, gliding past swirling eddies of orange and yellow leaves on the rain-slicked road: Maybe I am Pagan simply because I had the good fortune to be born and live most of my life here, in New England, surrounded by all this beauty.

How could I live in this place and at this time, and not give the whole embrace of my heart to the trees and hills of home? How could I look on the warm, smoldering fire of autumn maples, sumacs, and oaks, bright against the grim deep greens of hemlocks and pines, and not feel an answering warmth from deep inside my belly?

I dearly love the flooding light of Quaker meeting, and I trust the Spirit I encounter there. But the earth's musk and the lifted head of the doe who catches my scent, and the fire on a Berkshire hillside... I have no words for the depth of the love I feel for this vivid, living landscape of mine.

How could I not be Pagan, when my life and my heart have grown up here?


Erik said...

Place is an essential component of my paganism as well - I love traveling to the desert, but I know that I will always come home to the trees. It's fascinating to consider how different, and in what ways, the Neopagan movement might be today if it had sprung up there instead...

HysteryWitch said...

Wow. I love this post! The sacredness of place resonates with me as well. I can FEEL my connection to my corner of the world in my bones. I love the rounded hills, rising like a woman's curves above the farmland. I love the vineyards nestled against blue-glass lakes. I love the waterfalls and gorges. I love that my ancestors are buried in these valleys and that I can move among them. For me, being Quaker is about practice but the rushing and quaking I feel in my soul comes from the sacred earth.

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