Quietly as I can, I turn off all the lights in the kitchen, leaving only the candle’s flame to light the way, giddy and erratic. I turn the chair around, slowly and methodically, to face out the window. I breathe in the state of the world – the sleeping boys, the snoring dog, the rising world.
For a moment, the only important thing to do is to see the branches.
Taller than the window allows me to see, the trees hold last night’s snow. The heaviness cannot defy their slender frames. Subtle at first, the branches move. The stiller I become, the more I realize that they are in constant movement. I recognize the persistent winds that blow across the top of our house on a still morning.
How still do you have to become to notice the branches move?
How dark does it have to become to witness its shape in the morning light?
The branches are arrogantly disinterested in my witness. Every day, they sway overhead as I rush around down below – packing lunches, making lists, finding library books, zipping jackets, tackling doctoral work, marking off the days. I confess that I, too, have been arrogantly disinterested in the branches’ witness. Have I even noticed their grandeur since we lugged our belongings into our new home in December?
The branches are patient, more patient than I. I rush around as if the worth of today’s work depends on its ability to endure til tomorrow. The branches know that today is the only day that they might have to show off their extravagant splendor. The branches live their hours without thought, effort, or care of the world’s reception, fully knowing that tomorrow’s winds may turn them into kindling for Mother Earth’s next extravagant show.
For now, I neglect the paper that I must prepare for, the to-do list I must tackle, and the boys’ breakfast which must be made. I listen to the dog snoring and the creakings of a quiet house.
By the time the oldest bursts onto the scene, chatter bounding forth with plans for the snow day, I have seen the branches. They have reminded me of my name – mortal one – and the place where I live – an enchanted world whose wonder-full completeness woos me, grounds me, and changes everything… even if just for the morning.
For three months, this space has been silent. We moved houses the day after Christmas. I began my final semester at Duke. Our boys are growing. Work has entered a season of change. The thesis process has begun. While I never really know why I write here – as I know not who reads it, what they are looking to find, and whether it is truly wise to write something and submit it to the eternal digital world that never forgets or forgives – I know that I must return to the practice, as it is somehow necessary for my own soul. So may the branches remind me to neglect DMIN assignments just enough to keep this soul alive through the thesis process…awake and alive for the day at hand.