During the week, I invariably have a bipolar breakfast menu. One day, a bowl of oatmeal…the next day, a fried egg with a slice of cheese (can be cheddar…can be Swiss) on a flat round of whole wheat bread. The oatmeal is a concession to keeping my cholesterol level down…an expression of my left brain, carefully weighing practical matters. Conversely, I’m sure the urge for an egg emanates from my right brain…with a desire to walk on the wild side…to throw caution to the wind. If I ever get to the point where I can’t recall what I’ve had for breakfast the previous morning…I think I’ll go for the egg every day.
This morning, breakfast was transcendent. It was Saturday…Bela Fleck and company were filling the house with music…there was a mockingbird raiding the wild blackberry bushes outside the kitchen window…and, best of all…it was an egg morning.
I love the moon. It’s become a faithful companion.
It was in the spring of 1791 that George Washington embarked upon his ‘Southern Tour’…after having been elected the nation’s first president. On May 27th, he stopped at Nathan Barr’s tavern, on the northern outskirts of Lancaster, South Carolina, where he had breakfast. It’s said that he paid for his meal by cutting a Spanish dollar in half with his sword, and then giving the half-dollar to one of Barr’s young daughters.
He followed the highway north to Charlotte…on horseback in good weather…in a carriage when the weather turned foul. He passed within a mile of my house…on the road I travel everyday on my way to work. It must have looked very different then. All of the trees that I see on my daily journey are surely much younger than two hundred years. But…the lay of the land would have been somewhat recognizable…the profile of the rolling hills…Cane, Waxhaw, and Twelve Mile Creeks having to be crossed. Little else would have looked familiar, though. But up above…in the sky…George probably gazed upon a sight that appeared exactly the same as it does today.
I like the way that David Whyte, in his poem Faith, describes the moon as being,
“…faithful even as it fades from fullness,
slowly becoming that last curving and impossible
sliver of light before the final darkness.”
For me…the moon has become a guide…a mentor. A constant companion…that, every month, patiently takes me through the complete cycle of birth…to fullness of life…to fading away. A constant reminder not to grasp too strongly, onto that which will surely…and inevitably, disappear. It teaches me, as Whyte so eloquently suggests, to take seriously…and remain faithful to…my apprenticeship to my own disappearance.
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
~ Mary Oliver, Praying
Coming across this poem by Mary Oliver, I was reminded that…It doesn’t have to be the blue iris that draws my attention…and humbles me before the handiwork of the Beloved. It doesn’t have to be the spectacular vision for which we’re always searching…the glorious sunset…the snow-capped mountain range. All of creation…even the very simplest of things…can be a beckoning that invites us into intimate conversation with mystery.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
~ Arthur C. Clarke, Law #3 from Clarke’s Three Laws
There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ve reached this point…although sadly, we tend to take it for granted these days. A little over one mile down the road on which I live stands a rather smallish black box, perched atop a wooden post…now engulfed in wild Japanese and Trumpet Honeysuckle. I visit this box once or twice a week…open the door…and peer inside.
A short time ago, I was visiting a classroom in a local middle school, and during a break in the action of our geomentoring activity, I spotted an interesting-looking book on a nearby shelf…Earth: An Intimate History
by Richard Fortey. I pulled out my iPhone…searched on Amazon…found the book…and purchased it…all within the span of a few minutes. And then, just as quickly…I forgot about my little spontaneous transaction.
A couple of days later I paid a visit to my mailbox. Upon opening the door, I was pleasantly surprised that the book had magically materialized within this little portal to another dimension…the inner workings of which were not readily discernible to the naked eye. Magic? Or the endpoint of a sufficiently advanced technology?
If one didn’t have any idea of what was going on behind the scenes…and what sort of technological wizardry was involved…it would be difficult to be sure.
I was jolted awake…out of complacency… this mild morning as I set out to return my old car battery (which had died earlier in the week) to Walmart for recycling. Driving slowly down the road that I live on, I spied two Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus) standing in the middle of the road up ahead. As I approached, they both reluctantly took flight and then perched above on nearby branches. I then spotted something to my left in the ditch alongside the road…something that the vultures had been investigating. The warm and humid morning air was filled with the scent of death, and I found myself instinctively pinching my nose shut between thumb and forefinger. I stopped and looked out the open window at the somewhat bloated carcass of a rather large coyote (Canis latrans), on its back…its lips drawn back…revealing a set of fearsome-looking canine fangs that were, even in death, set in a ferocious snarl.
It’s uncertain how this particular coyote met its fate last night…perhaps, hit by a car travelling much too fast down this gravel-dirt road. I’ve often heard coyotes during the night…their baleful howling suddenly filling the still, night air. This dead coyote is the first one that I’ve seen, though, in almost four years of living in this tiny pocket of wildness that I call home. I often go walking down that same stretch of road, and it now gives me pause thinking there are still wild beasts of this nature roaming the woods that surround my house.