We are due for snow, but most of the afternoon it rains.
The girls only have to ask once. Of course they can go outside. And with one big rustle of coats, boots and umbrellas, they are gone. The door bangs shut as the three race outside to parade behind big sister’s umbrella, tromp through puddles, and hunt for worms.
I watch them from the window, hear their singing as they follow the twirl and swing of pink polka-dots, oldest thrusting her umbrella toward the clouds like a torch.
Knocking loudly on the pane, I point to a large, full-breasted robin slugging down worms right in front of them. He is large and proud, and not afraid of my knocking, or my girls.
They watch him for a few seconds then skip over to the gutter where they can find handfuls of “baby” worms. They fill a mason jar with dirt, bathe their new babies in a red plastic bowl, then nestle them into a cozy glass house. At least it has a room with a view.
I put on my jacket, grab the camera and step outside. The shutter snaps and I can’t help but laugh at my girls’ affection for arthropods. It’s not long before they toss wisdom aside, peel coats and kick off boots. The cold pavement and wet grass don’t bother them. Why should I let it bother me?
Slipping my hands into my pockets, I look up at the mountain and listen. My discontent begins to smooth and I notice the rain sounds like comfort feels. It is definitely a black rook day.
Lines from a favorite Sylvia Plath poem slide in, hover for a bit, then settle.
On the stiff twig up there,
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain.
I do not expect a miracle…
Nor do I. I’ve seen a robin, not a rook. And it is me arranging and rearranging my feathers – trying to find the right way to live, struggling to hold it together. None of us are expecting a miracle.
But I am like Plath.
Although I admit, I desire
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can’t honestly complain:
A certain minor light
may still leap incandescent
Out of the kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then —
Thus hallowing an interval
The shroud over the mountain ruffles slightly and I catch a glimpse of the slope. It is faint but beautiful, because behind the mist, something grand rises tall and wide. Raindrops grow bigger, heavier, and I hear the honking of two straggling geese as they fly overhead.
I turn to watch my girls who have decided a second worm bath is in order. Ali is now twirling and swinging polka-dots, Eliza and Sami slick their worms with water. Eliza puts her arm around Sami’s shoulder, and that is it for me. The otherwise inconsequent is now hallowed. It is the look on Sami’s face as she notices Eliza close to her that signals the sacred. I feel God’s breath and swill the love deep.
Giving my full attention to this moment, right now, is bigger than I think and in the sound of rushing water I hear His voice. He tells me how I ought to be – how we ought to be – with each other. That what we do is not as important as how.
I am slow to hear. But slowing is the key.
It rains colder and we move inside. The rain feathers into a steady white and I keep thinking about Sylvia’s black rook.
I’ve been traveling through my own “season of fatigue… patching together a content” of sorts. But like her, I don’t want to travel the course ignorant of “angels that might flare at my elbow.” I want to see these incandescent intervals for what they are – not “tricks of radiance” – but moments when the world is clear and comprehensible. Moments when I know precisely who God needs me to be.
I wrap my jacket around a hanger, and return to the dailyness – to begin the wait, once more, for that “random,” [maybe not so “rare”] “descent.”