but I don’t really know what I am looking for...(and life is a lot like that, most days.)
To stand atop that mountain, with a bit of breeze lifting my hair, taking in a splendid view, wandering with friends or alone on a cardo (Main Street) that was centuries...no, millennia old?
Seeing where the columns fell in a row, here, here, here, when an earthquake shook the city... It is like a dream...thinking about it right now, I feel wistful, full of longing to walk there again. (Hippos was in my top two “wow” moments in Israel, along with Gethsemane.)
I don’t know what I’m looking for, I’m just looking, eyes wide open, ears too.
How many shades of brown can there be? Yes, bits of green are emerging, but overall, the landscape is underwhelming.
I notice the barbed wire fence needs repair near the creek...which means I have no trouble at all scrambling through to the interesting side. (Last time, the fence looked much better, and I looked much worse after I snagged my pants and ripped a red angry scratch in my leg.)
I’m listening with my eyes, and I can hear the busy-ness scramble of life along the creek banks when I'm not here. Lots of small creatures, coming and going, stretching to reach the creek for a drink, creating little tracks through the grass, highways and byways leading to hidden burrows and holes beneath giant gnarled tree roots. Groundhog, squirrel, chipmunk, a skunk, right here, a few weeks ago, creeping across the frozen span.
Around the far side of an enormous stump, a startled muskrat hustles herself straight into the water and disappears. As I pause, birds flit from brush pile to the thorny hedge that is the perfect cover for song sparrows and nest building cardinals. Overhead, two red-wing blackbirds seem to be gossiping about me, pink hooded intruder; robin fuss tells everyone I’m here.
I’m pleased with myself for noticing...but when I bend down, a bit of movement surprises me:
a honey bee, stopping for some water.
The creek is too fast for her tiny form, so she’s grateful for mud...me, not so much.
I climb up the bank and wander along the edge of the cemetery. I wonder about this enormous rock which I have never noticed before.
It’s probably eight feet by six feet, and I’m sure it’s always been here, but I wasn’t listening for its story until today. Why is it uncovered, all weathered and worn, right here in the middle of a grassy area just south of the grave stones.
I clamber through another broken down fence, and stooping, I spot the tiny blue brightness of corn speedwell.
Yes, it’s a weed, but it’s hard to argue with this kind of blueness.
A tree stump
with a half dozen gnarled roots reaching into the stream
is the perfect spot to pause
and let my soul finally
catch up to the rest of me.
I sit for a long time.
I realize I have missed this ordinary place in the weeks I’ve been “seeing the world,”
missed the opportunity to ramble at my own (slow) pace,
missed these familiar sounds -
and horses clip-clopping along the road
and wind whispering, "Welcome home..."
I whisper back, "It’s good to be home."
This is a tree whose stories I would love to hear. I’m certain this ancient oak predates all the European settlers who traveled to this area in the mid-1700’s. The first church in the valley stood right here in the meadow, and this tree probably stood in or near the church yard, hearing the preaching and the visiting and the laughter of children and the singing. Today it only heard the wind. And humming.
I read the music,
and I heard the song of home.
This sweet and lonesome melody,
with interludes of long silence, stanzas of joy and lament -
it is my song.
And so, I sing.