April Here

04-12-2016 | Lindsay

Recently, Scot brought to my attention a poem by May Sarton called April in Maine:

The days are cold and brown,
Brown fields, no sign of green,
Brown twigs, not even swelling,
And dirty snow in the woods.
But as the dark flows in
The tree frogs begin
Their shrill sweet singing,
And we lie on our beds
Through the ecstatic night,
Wide awake, cracked open.
There will be no going back.

Here it snowed on the tulips. The sky has been a kaleidoscope of purple, indigo, and cobalt clouds sliding in and out across the horizon. The pine trees just east of Niles Cabin hum and cough in a gusty wind. It's cold: a fierce April.

The air is a mist on my face. A melody of woody rumbles and rustling descants plays in my ears. I glimpse budding dogwoods through the shifting light like fairy lights in the forest, and I have been pondering embodiment: how the world comes to us, a sensational symphony. Just now, notes in the composition stand out like jewels. Scot sent an email yesterday with the subject line: "New bird alert":

"Hear crazy singing? The boringly named Brown Thrasher has arrived. One of the most varied and beautiful songs. Puts a mockingbird to shame. REALLY pretty bird, too. Looks like a wood thrush with a long tail."

There is treasure to be apprehended every day. But that is not the whole of it. Embodiment means that there is magic happening at the moment our skin, eyes, ears, muscles and bones encounter place and the others inhabiting it. David Whyte, in a recent interview with Krista Tippett, spoke of this magic as a frontier:

"...I began to realize that ....my identity actually depended on how much attention I was paying to things that were other than myself...that the only place where things were actually real was at this frontier between what you think is you and what you think is not you... this meeting, this frontier...it's astonishing how much time human beings spend away from that frontier, abstracting themselves out of their bodies...and out of a deeper, broader, and wider possible future that's waiting for them if they hold the conversation at that frontier level."

All my life I have loved that discipline of embodiment: movement. There is no better way to become aware of the world than to know myself moving in it, lungs expanding, muscles stretching and contracting, skin caressing the ground and air. Walking past the tang scent of the mulch pile, leaning into the sweet piping of frogs on the evening air, lifting my face to the impossibly slim, silvery crescent of the moon in the dark sky--all these escort me to that magic frontier.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes:

The idea in our culture of body solely as sculpture is wrong. Body is not marble...Its purpose is to ...fire the spirit and soul within it....It is wrong to think of it as a place we leave in order to soar to the spirit. The body is the launcher of those experiences. Without body there would be no sensations of crossing thresholds, there would be no sense of lifting, no sense of height, weightlessness. All that comes from the body. The body is the rocket launcher. In its nose capsule, the soul looks out the window into the mysterious starry night and is dazzled.

There will be no going back.