Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Into this Universe, and Why not knowing,
Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing.
Omar Khayyam, from The Rubaiyat, Edward Fitzgerald, translation
Often the best knowledge, the exact thing I’m looking for, gets found in the least likely location. I was stretching on the floor, doing my best to make my back happy, listening to The Splendid Table on the Radio, when Terry Theise, the author of a book about wine, Reading Between the Vines, said this, “We tend to think of mysticism as something very remote and ethereal, inaccessible, but I think mysticism is a rather ordinary, everyday experience once we recognize it.” And “One of the common moments of mysticism is when we feel this is as good as it gets.”
Ah. There they are, the words I have been looking under rocks for. Sometimes I can’t see the forest for the trees! This is one of the primary reasons I go walking in the woods, for “the as good as it gets,” and for some ordinary mysticism, something I don’t have to sit in an uncomfortable position for, something that’s there at my doorstep, waiting for me to take the first step. And I do!
For a long time I rode my bike for exercise, lots of long distance rides. Mostly by street, sometimes paved bike path. I wouldn’t have come to near-daily walks in the woods had this body allowed me to remain on the bicycle. Alas. The mystical experience of biking had to do with exhilaration, climbing hills, feeling strong, the rush of endorphins. Yes, the wind in my face, too, but that wasn’t the main thing. I was moving too quickly to notice God in every leaf and stone.
On the days I go into the forest, I get to put myself in perspective and then I don’t necessarily have to feel like I’m even the center of my own life. That tree, the one on the hill over there, is. It’s easy to believe that the mortgage is the most important thing, that dinner on the table is. Because they are. However, the mistake is to think they’re the only most important things. The external, daily life that’s such a deal to maintain nowadays, is only part of the picture of what makes us human. I need a peak at the divine. Wind moving through the grass gives me just that. The deer with one rack of antlers who peered at me before running off gave me that too. The woods make my life whole. I tell you, God is out there. God is out there and takes me frayed as I am. No questions asked; no finger pointing. The preaching that comes from on high are Northern Flickers and Scrub Jays, Red Tailed Hawks.
When I don’t go out among the trees, I can get convinced that life, my life, the world, is a very small, contrived place. I may, in fact, believe it has four walls and a roof, occasionally windows that open, but not often, not wide enough.
Posted by Patrice Vecchione at 6:09 AM