The mind turns to pancakes – with fresh blueberries, fried in butter, then decked with maple syrup. A longing for sweetness, or simply to be filled. And that line from Thomas Merton as well, in Contemplative Prayer, about the hidden work of the spirit delivering us to grace. The horse plowed through clover once it saw the familiar barn ahead, and the cumulus clouds built overhead to a biblical degree. “The spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.” What a lovely phrase!
More specifically, a pair of does browsing in Plainfield the other night, color of burlap in the rainy dusk, jittery and beautiful. I was annoyed with the car ahead of us – it slowed to a stop (you roll by slowly, otherwise they flee, and why disrupt their dinner?). I swung out to pass, thinking I would stop, roll down my window and lecture the idiot about the proper way to appreciate a couple of does at dusk. But then I saw the driver and his passenger, both of them old and frail, and saw too the look on their faces – utter joy, literally palpable. So I shut up and kept driving. Baby steps, really.
Yet why rail against yourself just because you were almost a jerk? Carrying Fionnghuala on my shoulders through the forest earlier, I stopped to study fallen acorns. “Green! Green!” she cried, pocketing one to show Chrisoula. Later we laughed at the bullfrogs floating in the shallows of the pond. I got annoyed – again! – with whomever caught and left to die a fine trout, ten inches at least, the soft silver of its bottom gazing back at the paler moon, already overhead. But then was comforted somewhat thinking some lucky bear or raccoon would stumble on to it. All things for a reason, which if it isn’t true, should be.
In that same chapter, Merton flags the “right use of effort” in prayer. Or “application of effort,” I forget. I do remember this, though: “When one is obeying God, a little goes a long way.”