Monday, February 26, 2007

Life in Death

We have been in a bit of a silent period, He and I, as if He’s on His side of the bed and I am on mine, both of us enthralled by our own worlds of discovery in the books we read- be it The Book of Life or To Bedlam and Partway Back. My back faces Him and we are in bed together. His still, silent presence makes Him no less next to me.

There is a straining to humanity, not indigenous to male or female, we both sense that life is harder than it had to be. If we smell the air long enough, if our ears take in the most acute sounds like the elegant motorized cadence of the hummingbird’s wings, it is there, it is visible. My eyes can almost make out the shape of that old tree, if my neck bends far enough back into the past, visible now in only glimpses, its stately shape silvered and wise, boughs bending down and up, over and out, strong enough to succumb to his plucking of fruit, her convincing words.

It all begins there, really. And for me now, it does not end here. There is more, but right now He is silent and I have my back toward Him. Until Saturday evening.

Lying in bed tired from a night’s revelry with friends, I slept, on my side, arms purposefully lengthened to draw my shoulders away from my neck. Sleep is one of the rare instances when all is really right with the world: when our meager bodies remind us we are created not creator, when we refresh and refuel so we may conquer the day ahead. Once I am asleep, I am dead to the world until magically, eight hours later I awaken without assistance, a well-crafted machine that is man.

This particular evening, something woke me in the pitch of night’s apex. Through the haze of slumber, a small familiar sound pulled back the gauzy curtains of sleep. As I began the task of discerning what was making the sound, I wrestled with whether or not it was a loud squeaking or a screech. The folds continued peeling back as I grew increasingly alarmed, realizing either a family of rats lay outside my window waiting to ambush me or a band of bats. My eyes opened and took in the darkness that surrounded me as the sound grew. I surveyed the floor for any sign of vermin present and distinguished that the sound indeed was outside. As I lay still in bed, I finally spoke to Him.

“Please don’t let them come in here!”
“Make them go away!”
“I believe You are capable of banishing them from my presence that they may never return. I do. Believe You.”

And the screeching halted. It did not die away or saunter off in the midnight’s air, it ceased. In the last shreds of the fear I clung to as a blanket that would shroud me, I contemplated sleeping or not sleeping in my bedroom that night. After all, they had been outside, what if they returned? I mulled over whether or not I could actually fall asleep now that it had been disturbed by the sounds of night animals cavorting against the pane of glass keeping them at bay. And I sank back, down into the feathered pillow cradling my head and let go. In this instant, I had become increasingly aware of the vulnerability of our bodies while they sleep, previously only ascribed to babies and small children. We too are children in our own right, just taller sometimes.

The next morning I pushed the sleep from the edges of my eyes, forcing myself to get up and go to yoga, though rolling over sounded much more appetizing. Thoughts of the night before and its resulting midnight conversation spoken in the darkness supplanted any other thoughts from rising. I knew even if I asked my roommate Lori if she had heard anything, she would say no, that those screeches had been meant for me. That my will lately has been so strong, He may only get my attention when nothing else vies for it, when I am at peace, when all is right with the world.

So is this the end? No it’s somewhere in the middle of my story and perhaps three quarters of the way of ours.

A man’s words rang in my ears that Sunday morning:

“Why are you on the shore when you can be in the river? Dipping a toe or dunking a foot isn’t being completely in the river.”

My life’s safety nets illuminated around me in that day-glo orange hue and then there was context for the screeching, the river, the silence.

“Why are you trying so hard to do this all on your own? Why don’t you trust Me? You’re not doing a very good job all by yourself and yet you persist. Let go of the ledge of earth upon which you stand firmly, feet dug into the soil. See that I am good and I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Context averted my eyes from my belly button to gaze instead at shafts of light squeezing in between panes of colored glass ,and shining through those stained glass windows, its boughs shrugged under the weight of the shiny fruit. There is life in death.


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