WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Friday, August 13, 2021
The word ‘astonish’ comes from the Latin word for thunder, so it could literally mean being thunder-struck, shocked like sudden thunder and lightning can shock. I’ve been astonished like this – ‘stopped dead in my tracks’ – countless times in my long life, but much more so in the last few years. In fact, it’s truly a daily, sometimes hourly, experience now. Life, more and more, seems like almost constant ‘lightning and thunder’, but in the best and happiest of ways. I am now, at the age of 79, truly amazed, stunned, and startled by almost everything. I know now that I have absolutely no answers, but only awe-struck questions, and I am loving the questions (as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke advised a young poet to do). “Why did this just happen? Where did this thought come from? How did I get here? Who the heck am I?” In these elder days, I walk around in an almost constant daze, but it’s a happy daze, a bewilderment that brings me grateful joy. I feel like I’ve reached the summit of a mountain where the view is both striking and mystifying, both beautiful and utterly baffling. And strangely enough, I am totally at peace with this astonishment I’m feeling in my 79th year. In fact, I am grateful for it, for I feel like I’ve entered a land of both constant surprise and absolute safety. Somehow, my bewilderment brings with it quietness and contentment. There’s lightning and thunder, yes, but it’s the kind that carries illumination and instruction and a smile.
IN MAZE In Maze, Mississippi, USA, the residents seem always thunderstruck, as if astounding thoughts are constantly ascending like stars inside them. They seem almost speechless, like words couldn’t possibly describe the miraculousness of their lives. They see their lives as shoreless rivers flowing in a poised and imperishable way. As with all of us, they sometimes must take a trip with sorrow, but they’re astonished that its hard road always leads to new kinds of light. They’re staggered by the freshness of every single moment, as if life is always starting over with a sparkle. They’re flabbergasted by the simplest sights – leaves moving in winds, a single bird sitting in grass. These folks of Maze often look totally lost, but somehow in a lovely, lucky way.
And here are some scenes from our recent walks, and roses outside our dining room window, and Queen Anne’s lace beside our patio, and two loving friends named Hammy and Delycia …