Pushing myself into the forest these days, feeling my mind drifting behind me like a silver balloon on the slightest of tethers. One or two stars against the flare of sunrise, some stirring deep in the bracken as deer settle down to sleep. I mentioned to J. the other day how last winter I lived seven days without heat or electricity and on the third night while laying down felt another body enter mine as if at last there was space for it inside me. He was courteous, noncommittal. I can’t blame him.

But we have to share and more than that, give. I didn’t light the stove this morning, merely sat by the cold iron and watched sparrows fuss around the woodpile. Close up their wing feathers remind me of nutmeg, deep brown, flecked with black. Damage from last year’s ice storm still visible in the far woods, the trees shredded like so many tooth picks. Kept thinking about prayer, how easy it is to be confused and deceived, yet how we have to keep trying. One of these days . . .

Rereading Thoreau’s journals, holding in mind the prophets, and Stephen Mitchell’s translations of some of the psalms. A few nights back Thoreau had this to say (Dec. 5, 1856): “It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all . . . While you are pleased to get knowledge and culture in many ways, I am delighted to think that I am getting rid of them.” This morning I realized how little I see in the world that I don’t long to possess somehow – trees, birds, houses, clothes . . .

Well, it can seem hopeless, but then promises were made and they are kept. There isn’t much we have to do, really. Witness to our road, which is helpful to those who share it, or want to share it. And then cultivate some silence in which the right words might surface. Thirty years ago in catechism classes I would ignore the teacher in favor of staring out the window and praying fervently for a holy vision. Come on Jesus, show yourself. Now! Do it now! But he never did.

I still pray that way, still want to stick my fingers right in the viscera of the wound. Prayed this morning, please Jesus . . . Just five seconds, five half seconds even. A glimpse . . . the shadow of a glimpse . . . And as usual nothing. No – not nothing. For once let me not indulge a lie. Rather, no body appeared to share the room, which made me smile a little. I drank tea and enjoyed being warm after a cold walk. Later some words arrived – these and others – and with them, peace.

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