Watch the moss-coated stones–they can be slippery. The water seeps into the cracks as it makes its way down into the creek–the waterfalls flowing, cascading white, like sheets being shook over the natural stairs. Everything is made by nature here–weathered by time–and, yet, so much stays the same: the spot where you can dive off the boulder and not break your neck; the large branch that leans precariously over the water, yet to break; the winding steep path down the woods (the roots of the trees like reptilian feet) that leads you to this peaceful place; the blue heron that sits upstream on the falls, staring at you, annoyed by your presence. “Why are you here?” he seems to ask. The question I’ve been asking myself for so long–with only the response, “Who knows?” But, here, in my favorite place, it all flows clear like the pristine water from the mountain snows: I am here to listen, to learn–to understand that I’m a mere ripple in the eternal flow.
Last week I had the slightest taste of what Boston went through on Friday. A cop came to my house in my one-horse town of Galena, MD and asked me if I’d seen a guy in shorts and a tee-shirt running around my flower farm. I said no, why? And he said a guy jumped out of a truck on a routine traffic stop and ran off into the woods. He said they had a police helicopter out looking for him, and soon I heard the whir of the engine overhead. I kept imagining the guy in the woods ducking behind trees, hiding behind boulders. The cop asked me to open my garage door to see if the guy was hiding in there, and then he went on his way. I locked all my doors and windows (though it was a sunny day, in the seventies). And then I had to leave to go to work. Later, I found out that the guy was harmless enough, running from a ticket for dumping oil illegally. He was now holed up in a friend’s house.
So when all of Boston had to be on lock-down, in this miniscule way, I could relate. I understood what it was like to have this unknown threat outside, not knowing what he was capable of. . . No one knows the extent of evil–if that is what that 19-year-old Boston Marathon bomber embodies. When they found the kid in the boat, it struck me that they waited until dark to flush him out. They waited until they could shine the light on him, goodness bearing down on darkness, evil. It made for excellent TV. But this isn’t TV. And we’ve long since moved beyond black and white. The world is increasingly dangerous, complex and grey. That 19-year-old’s (and 26 year old’s) parents are in shock–still in a state of denial. No way could their two boys have done something as heinous as this. But they were their boys. Their babies. And they saw the light in them.
I spent the week before Christmas in an elementary school–my favorite place to be before the holidays. But, of course, it was different this year. The children were still so excited, most unaware of the tragedy, but their joy couldn’t supercede the knowing that innocence can be shattered in a split second–that the world as we know it can completely turn upside down in the blink of an eye. There will always be guns in this world; there will always be violence. I am no longer naive enough to think otherwise; but I can still pray for peace. I can still look at a riverbank and see the beauty in a snow-coated pine. I can still catch my breath when a buck emerges from the forest–his presence so regal. I will never understand how someone would want to cut down that tree, shoot down that deer. . . But I have given up trying to understand. I just want to still be able to feel. The one thing I fear is that we will become numb, that all the killing and all the violence will make us close our eyes–will make us sleep through our lives. S. African poet, Jeremy Cronin, said that “Art is the struggle to stay awake.” That is my new year wish for us all: that we remain awake, and somehow, someway, perhaps through Art, find a way to transform our world into a peaceful, loving place. Namaste ~ Lisa