It is a lovely world in which to awaken: a lovely world to awaken from, for loveliness is merely a hint of the Light of Christ, an intimation of the Absolute, and each beam of it which permeates the darkness hastens us further from Adam’s sleep to the ordinary glory of which all life is comprised.
Thus – for me – bluets.
I call them bluets publicly. Botanists call them Houstonia caerulea, and some people – usually older – remember them as Quaker Ladies, because their delicate blooms are like so many bonnets nodding in happy prayer. I have another name for them – one that I rarely share – given years ago in a difficult time, when wordiness itself was salvation though I did not perceive it then as such. I look for them every spring; they are a joy to me, an uncompromising beauty, humble and elegant, and Heaven itself shimmers in their fluttering stems and petals.
Ten days ago I espied them outside the Worthington Historical Society – about a mile north – while gathering the old lectern (the one from the old South Worthington church) to use at annual town meeting. Four days after that they were bunched on the lawn outside the elementary school – half a mile closer but still not in the yard.
On Sunday, my neighbor to the east had bluets waving on beside the road – whole clumps of them I saw while walking the dog back from the forest (when the sun had risen somewhat).
Yesterday – at last – they arrived in our yard – three small congregations, no more than a dozen flowers each, waving in sunlit breezes. I sat by them for a few minutes, embarrassed as always to be so happy with such frail and simple things. And yet . . . . Today, while mowing, I steered around them, not ready yet to go even a day without their presence.
The whole question of how to manage illusions is not so troubling, once you stop resisting them and simply surrender in a very practical way to love. Love what enters the range of your perception, regardless of whether it’s an illusion or reality, and what you love in particular, love with all your heart and soul. Go to it and sit by it: flowers, moonlight, pine trees, pianos, beaches, bird feeders, craft fairs, sheep farms, horse races. The form in which love reveals itself is not important; the love revealed is.
It is to that love now that our attention is given: minute by minute, day by day. That is healing.
What is time to a bluet? What is weather? What are ethics? What is a career?
The bluets speak to me of timeless presence, of life without goals and beholden to no outcome. They accept what is given – sunlight, soil – and extend their whole essence without concern for what happens next.
I hold them in mind all year – have since I was a little boy just beginning to notice the many lovelinesses hiding in plain sight around me – and even when they are gone, in fall and the long winter, they lift and edify and bless me. When they are here in form I go to them daily in what passes now for prayer and for a little while there is only the joy of That-Which-Is and I rest in it, and the bluets rest in me, and we are one.
Some day I won’t need bluets, but I’m in no rush. The ordinary grace and glory is – for now- sufficient.