A Slip Of Cloud Trailing Off

In the east, above a handful of maroon clouds, the quarter moon floated, a slip of cloud trailing off it like a luminous skirt, while all around it dozens of stars beamed, like pin pricks in a fabric held against the light. The long grass of the field whispered and rustled at our feet as we passed, moving quickly in the cold.

It is possible to both say too much and too little about the spiritual experience, the gentle awakening. It doesn’t lend itself to words, and the inclination to mistake oneself for the process can lead to all sorts of problems. “I” am not waking up, “I” am being slowly sloughed off, and yet and yet . . .

There is really no reason not to wake up, not to realize that we do in fact contain the divine spark that can at any moment – with our blessing as the match – leap into conflagration. Enlightenment takes all of ten minutes, once you’ve settled a few key concepts, most of which have to do with the illusion of the body and the illusion of the world. After that, it’s all a walk in the pre-dawn fields, the woods opening like a veil being lifted.

The killdeer woke up as we headed back – or were awakened by the dogs more likely – and we could hear their shrill cries, the batting of their wings. The eyes of hungry deer fixed on us from the safety of thickets just past the field’s edge. They would have come out for Saint Francis, but for me they poise for flight, aware only that I am passing more quickly than a hunter would.

Passing to tea, to prayer, folded up in the shape of an apple on the cool floor, listening to the neighbor’s rooster, trying to remember to forgive every thought that drifts through my mind. It is the ending that troubles you the most – the right line, the understanding of what comes next. In the interim, the sun rose and the tea grew cold, and I couldn’t help smiling, and wishing you were here.

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