The Contemplative Journey Add comments

Excerpted from Chapter Eleven of THE CRICKET IN THE CANOE: A MEMOIR OF THE GODWARD JOURNEY by Elizabeth Ayres.  http://creativewritingcenter.com

Christmas is here, and I am still holding summer in my heart.  Yesterday evening, as day and night settled together so early into twilight’s marriage bed, I sat on my glassed-in porch, remembering the fireflies, how in the summer evenings they would wink in and out of shining, each incandescent glimmer a unique creature, possessed of its own desires, flitting around in its luciform body, separate, yearning for union with the other firefly it will attract with its ardent glow.  The river, then as now, silver in the gloaming.  The trunks and boughs of the pin oaks, then as now, fading into a velvet, ebony sheen.  The miniscule flickers of the lightning bugs then – in the grass, in the trees, against the backdrop of the river – formed part of a greater whole, reminding me of my own yearnings, all with different names but one ultimate objective.  I imagined someone watching all the incandescent glimmers of all the people on the planet, each of us winking in and out of shining, our luciform bodies possessed of private desires with multitudinous names but one goal.  I imagined the blue marble of Earth suspended in its black ocean, surrounded by the incandescent glimmers of other planets, stars, galaxies, universes, and I remembered something Julian of Norwich wrote, that the love of God makes such a unity in us, when we see the unity, we can’t separate ourselves from it any more.

Last week, walking on a nearby the beach, I found a dead heron.  I spread out its wings, as if the bird were still flying.  I stretched out its neck, as if it were heading westward.  I placed, in its beak, the dead fish I found lying next to it, then scrubbed my hands with sand, rinsing them in waves that flapped on the beach like wings.  As I turned to walk away, I heard a rifle’s report in the woods, and realized: that heron had been shot from the sky in full flight, its dinner wriggling in its mouth.

Where did it come from, the impulse to re-enact, on the canvas of that beach, a portrait of the heron’s last few minutes of life?  Physicists say electrons, neutrinos, quarks and other particles are not solid at all, they’re composed of tiny oscillating filaments.  Just as a violin’s strings resonate at certain vibrational frequencies, which our ears sense as musical notes, all observable objects vibrate, but instead of producing musical notes, they create preferred relationships of mass and force determined by their strings’ oscillatory patterns. An electron is a string vibrating one way, a quark is a string vibrating another way, and so on.  When I came upon that heron, there was, for unfathomable reasons, a silent tug on the invisible, incandescent cord connecting us, and I knew in my own body what its body had experienced just hours before.  It seems a fitting symbol for Christmas this year, as the old era represented by the Mayan calendar passes away and a new era of possibility emerges.  Shall we say that the river, the pin oaks, the fireflies and all the other beings on this or any other planet, in this or any other galaxy, in this or any other universe, are one incarnate unity aquiver with one divine energy, different names for multitudinous forms having one ultimate objective: God?  Shall we say the Cosmic Christ is being born?

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