On New Year's Eve a handful of us gathered in the Meditation Shelter near midnight, having walked there under a starlit, velvet sky. The shelter was aglow with candles and and firelight. There we welcomed the new year, "full of things that have never been.", as Chardin says. We shared poems, songs, quiet, and a few thoughts, of which this was one:
Like every year since the dawn of time, 2013 had its flashes of joy and shadows, its rushing fountains and still waters, its melodies and haunting silences. On this mountain, we said good bye to Vivian, and welcomed Kate, Josh, Emma and Ana. We lost the little cat Shadow, buried Merlin and Jasmine, and were found by puppy Erin. We lost some chickens and gained some sheep. We abandoned whole sections of the garden to weeds, putting faith in a spring redemption, and planted lettuces in the reclaimed eco-barn. We fearfully dipped our toes in the well of Bob and Jackie's leaving, and basked in the warmth of rekindled fires and exquisite young homemaking at Deerspring. We cried in the dark and danced under the moon.
Personally, for each one of us, there were babies born, and a brother lost; a wedding and a funeral; illness and wellness; and a myriad of numinous moments and hard edges in between.
This morning I opened a note from a Friends of Silence subscriber. She is a calligrapher and cardmaker, and on the front she had inscribed in flowing script these words from Teilhard de Chardin:
We imagine the Divine
as distant and inaccessible,
whereas in fact
we live steeped
in its burning layers.
I spend a bit of time just walking around out here, lately with Erin for a companion; and quite a lot of time driving up and down gravel Mission Road as well. I'm not a very sensate person, nor given much to scrutiny. But I have managed to notice shifts in the quality of light among the trees as the seasons pass. Late summer is thick, like green sea water; September into October is crystalline and gold; and now, now is perhaps my favorite...the light is nearly horizontal, backlighting the trees, sending their shadows slanting over the crumbled leaves or pale snow. It's lying down, like a blanket over the earth, gently resting before the ascent begins again to the summer zenith. This is what it was doing as Billy and I drove in this afternoon, returning from errands in Charles Town.
So I wonder about these layers of the Divine, this Something that wraps itself round and round the Earth, that filters through the trees, that lays itself down time and again over the stony ground. Chardin would say, I suppose, that it covers every hand waving goodbye as the moving van heads west to Oregon; every woman stirring soup to welcome snowed in Advent retreaters in her new home; every head bowed in a funeral mass; every young couple making vows in a green grove in Virginia; every slippery newborn placed in her daddy's arms...all of it.
Now that's a thought for the New Year.