We Are In This Together

Trudging through snow this morning it seemed the cold had lost its bite. Then, on the far side of the mountain, a roadside maple signaled Spring as I drove past. “Roadside maples, stunted with salt.” I felt sad for what seemed the silliest of reasons – maple trees about to be deprived of sap. When I love syrup as much as anyone, look forward every afternoon to a cup of tea sweetened by it.

So the mind drifts, floats this way and that through experience, tethered to . . . what? I seem to be in a perennial valley these days, a broad one that inspires little inclination to pass through it quickly. I am mindful of the story of Jesus on the mountain, communing with Moses and Elijah. The disciples can’t believe their luck, want to set up tents, but Jesus says No. Peaks are brief, affording only glimpses of the bigger terrain in which we live. Grasping is always a bad idea, especially when there’s eggs to be gathered, children to be read to, dogs to be walked . . . .

Or so I tell myself, finding one day after the other a bland dough of familiar writing assignments, bad poems, et cetera. Small comfort that Thomas Merton advised just this as the remedy for spiritual aggrandizement. I want my mountain! And yet, as the hours pass and I feel no need to rush them or fill them with anything else, I begin to see . . . what?

Questions, not answers. Something in us does love a bargain, especially when the answers appear vague or inconsistent. I’ll celebrate the valley if you’ll secretly bring me the mountain. While beneath the weight of settling complicated metaphysical questions, some other energy continues, and it is this to which we ought to attend. Yesterday I roasted a chicken, met a deadline, was kind to the many guests in my home. There are no small potatoes! If I was lifted at all this morning it was by a thick slice of toasted sourdough bread lathered with raspberry jam.

Oh, and the Rapture! Pushed onto my radar by a newish friend. So mulled the exclusivity of rapture theology while teaching Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain, the students oddly animated, trying to decide what kind of love story it is. J said, “A love story is a love story no matter who’s doing the loving.” Hours later I think, It’s not so simple but we are in this together . . .

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Marya February 18, 2010, 11:39 am

    Sean,

    So profound, so beautifully moving! I feel like our heads are in a similar place. Though yours is far ahead of mine, I recognize it in the crowd. And I am getting closer all the time.

    How glad I am to know you and to be challenged by your thinking!

  • admin February 18, 2010, 11:49 am

    Thank you, Marya . . . I too am glad that we are moving along the path together. I have been thinking about Leonard Cohen’s cover of “Passing Through”- do you know it? All those sentiments – “Sometimes happy, sometimes blue – glad that I ran into you – we’re on one road and we’re only passing through.”

  • Marya February 18, 2010, 12:27 pm

    Yes, Leonard Cohen, the poet of the universal experience.

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