Big Sur Diptych II: Feast of the Transfiguration
[Please note that I will be traveling for two weeks. The next post will be around the middle of March, 2006.]
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Big Sur Diptych II:
Star Fox/Lightning in the East
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On the way to the water pipe yesterday evening I saw a lynx; he saw me, too, and slunk quickly off into the brush at the left side of the road where a grocery store of quail and wood rats awaited his leisurely selection.
I filled my jugs and heard crashing in the woods above; deer, from the sound of it. I went a little up the road, set my jugs down to rest, watched, and waited. The crashing began again. A doe appeared, slipped noisily down to the road, and began to eat at the edge, seeming indifferent, but checking things out for her fawn.
Impatient fawn leaps lightly down to road, frisking. His back is to me but doe sees and watches with dark eyes, ears twitching. I am upwind so I know she has my scent, yet she is unafraid. After a moment she leans down for another mouthful and I quietly pick up my jugs to leave these two in peace. They watch but do not start, do not panic. I am blessed.
Four A.M. and a broad-bottomed coon wakes me up, raiding my stores. I shine my light on him and he scuttles off into bushes, soon comes back. I chunk a clod of dirt after him and wait under the wheeling bowl of stars to see if he will return again.
A meteor shoots overhead. We are in the month of major star showers. This one is bright and yellow and goes from east to west.
And suddenly I see the fox, also moving east to west. I hold my breath: he trails stars from his tail as he floats along, soundlessly, no sound I can hear.
He pauses, dances even in his stillness. He calls down Aries the warrior and tames him: no war, only music and fire. He calls down the great star Aldebaran from the constellation of the bull (how well I know the bull), and fire strikes the earth. He laughs with the Pleiades, those shy maidens you can see only if you look from the corner of your eye. Look at them directly and they recede; look at them through binoculars and each shines brighter than Aldebaran, even the shyest.
Fox, little fox, there are no sour grapes or sweet for you here, only light, starlight, stars' dust, clouds of unknowing, but to you they are known. It is we with our names and intuitions who must grope. You flicker down the heavenly spheres bringing the whole population of the universe in your wake: centaur and scorpion, warrior and maiden, hunter and starry game. But there is no plunder of centaurs, no sting of scorpions, no rape of maiden by warrior, no killing of game by hunter.
You carry us, little fox, into this assembly; you help us seek the Maker of the Pleiades and Orion, you carry them to us. We wheel and dance; we plunge into the darkness and are dazzled with the light. We know deep darkness becomes morning and wonder at the stars' greater brightness as first light's sheer and gauzy veil slips over the eastern ridge.
Star fox, little swift, trailing starlight and constellations, forgive our heaviness, forgive our clay feet. Tell our Maker that we too would dance in the darkness and desert, we too would have your lightness and grace. Say, O little one of large eyes and huge ears, that we would see the Face unveiled and hear the whispered Voice. Speak for us: our words are clumsy, our eyes blurred, our hearing dulled.
Speak for us: we are dancers, singers; we trail fire in our hearts as we hurtle through space-time. Your eyes glow in the starlight and you look into our hearts and know; your ears move receptively, you hear our pleas, feel our longing, bear the Seeker in the dark.
But tonight, this moonless night of music and ever-changing, never-changing dance, speak for us, hear for us, dance for us, bring us into the starry company, bring them to us...
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Lightning in the East
Awake from sodden sleep. Drugged with dreams from Bosch that sneak into the bushes as consciousness makes half-hearted return.
The night is getting warm. I went to bed in a flannel nightgown; it and my sleeping bag are soaked with sweat.
My left sinus hurts. Hurts with an ache sharp and dull and full all at once, sure sign of changing pressure.
Change. Something is happening.
I inch out of my damp cocoon and zip open the tent flap.
Twenty-three hundred feet below, muffling the surf, glimmering in the moonless night, is a bed of fog. Silly with sleep I contemplate a swan-dive and bouncing on it.
Then I wake up fast. There is lightning in the east. It dulls the stars when it explodes; they seem brighter when it is gone. I sense rather than hear the rumble of thunder. It comes through the mountain rock that stirs uneasily with pressure that both rises and falls. The water in its heart is summoned by the water from heaven falling in torrents on the valley to the southeast.
The stars seem caught in their motion, motionless. The temperature rises. The fog rises. It is both hotter and colder. Somewhere on this mountain heat and cold will meet; somewhere fire and water.
I am caught and cower. Earth trembles toward dawn as lightning etches ridges in sharp relief. All is hushed in waiting, all exhausted in tension. Little by little the fog creeps up the mountain. Sharper and brighter lightning flashes in the east.
Cry to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Hide us!" Who can bear this tearing polarity, who can arc between fire and water, rock and bread, tears and wine? Who can stand a heart riven by darkling light; who can endure molten Love coursing through the earth?
A line of fire stretches from heaven to meet fog rising from the sea. What will be released in this elemental meeting? What energy from polarity? What mutation from collision?
I am caught halfway up, halfway down; I am caught between heaven and earth; I am caught by fire that speaks to fire indwelling and water that calls to my tears. I arc to meet the lightning and embrace the mercy of fog to cool my burns.
Star Fox and Red Bull swirl in the Dance; psalm-singers without number charge the silence with music no mortal ear can hear and live. The lines of fog and fire draw closer.
Who are we, O Fiery Name, that you are mindful of us? Who are we that you should make us a meeting place of these contraries torn between earth and heaven? Who are we that through us fire should erupt from creation and cleanse all things, that Beauty should return in her fullness, that star should marry sea and Peace kiss each one upon the lips?
The stars bend low. "Tonight?" I ask, longing through my fear, is it tonight? Star and fire and fog, the weight too much and nothing...nothing...
A little breeze rustles dried husks of wild oats, seed long fallen into the ground to wait for winter rains. Its sighing is my longing; the husks my food until I am consumed, grain planted and ground, leavened and broken. Sunrise dulls the stars; lightning fades; fog recedes. Star Fox and Red Bull sleep until the Feast of Feasts....
And yet...and yet....how is the sorrowing earth not transfigured this night? How is the sowing of fire not sparked, arced through our clay this night, this morning, this darkness and light both alike?
Time is our foolish booth in which we try to trap what has begun and ended and even now is borne in us. We are blind because we see, but it is in the cloud that envelops and leaves us senseless that we know a little Truth, dimly, stupidly, and return home rejoicing, not believing, yet hoping...
Sun burns its way into the morning, burns our staring eyes, burns us into new life of another day. We break bread at sun's zenith, cry, "O Christ come quickly!" Under sun beg for Sun; broken-hearted fed with Bread broken, hearts pierced with light too great to bear, burst asunder with all creation pouring out from each in floodlife, fountains, streams, rivers from stoneheartflesh, molten, living stones...