Monday, April 15

Sapling




I. A gem this friend wrote the other day, even by his lofty norms. Of shortcomings, real and perceived. Of loss; of vulnerability; asking others to fill the gaps. It reamed my insides out, his honesty, and I wondered how he felt, so exposed. I couldn't even find the words to tell him how brave he was.

II. This morning, his words still fresh, she and I received word from another friend. Her baby, only days old, under the operating knife this morning. An inability to imagine, an unwillingness to understand - these do not placate grief or worry. Motherhood is vulnerability writ large, I suspect.

III. Today's the anniversary of my love's father's quite premature passing. Words fail. So, too, do other tokens, though hugs - simply holding the stitches of memory together - less so.

IV. A student on Thursday relates her trip to Mexico; in the span of a month she's lost two cousins, an uncle, risks losing yet another in the hospital. Her mother's bailing on chemo regularly, doesn't see the point of fighting poison with poison. So the student works - thirty-five hours a week and sixteen credits beside, supporting her ailing family. And I'm to ask her how classes are going, how we can help her succeed?

V. Monday morning of only the third week of ten and already the quarter feels raw, split, exposed. All these seams and curtains glaring, even if I ought look politely away. "Everything happens for a reason," someone posts on Bookface, and well that's horseshit of the ripest variety. My tolerance for fraudulence falls daily; a friend makes a snarky aside against Hitchens and I'm ready to war him. Reminder of a camp counselor I worked with once, who'd the same unoriginal explanation for all things ugly: "Original sin." Fear is the opposite of logic, I think, but reason somehow still scares most more.

*******

But: April's here in earnest. We start a run in the sun, and spend as much of it in snow and hail as we do in the clear. "A lion in lamb's clothing," I remember, this weather. The balsamroots thrive despite the season's neuroses, but other wildflowers are faring less well thus far.

We're moving on, interviewing students this week, last week, next week - trying to fill next year's slots. One kid just got busted, drinking in the middle of a leadership conference. We try not to think of the walls we're butting against; I've a co-worker that fakes martyrdom, but does the least work. We're all far more sinner than saint, anyways, and even at our bests we're simply undercaffeinated.

Outside work, we're both worn down, she and I, run down after all the running up. The way these joints ache after the descents, the way this weather lays siege to our sense of decency and appropriate dress. This won't be one of those seasons that whimpers out, I don't think, not even at school. Maybe a trumpet blast at spring's end, the disorder ceasing only once the classroom's closed once more.

I'm not so sour as I'll sound. The physical fatigue of these miles, of long weekends in the mountains, feels comfortable, and holds the emotional wear as a blanket. We split a beer last night, after two beers each one night last week gave us both wicked hangovers. In some sense, perhaps we've outlived that first poison. In another, we're simply getting old.

But, truly: we're satiated in our depths, at least temporarily, by the quiet and lonely sanctuary of a steep and seemingly desolate ridge. Burned nearly twenty years past, still charred trees scatter the way. Near the top of the steepest descent we found a butterfly, its wings damaged by the hail. She cupped it in her hands, and down we continued. Even in the broken, beauty. All told, we gave four or five hours to pursue broken beauty, running and hiking and bearing the weather's frantic temperaments. Even so, a slice of fifteen minutes unadulterated sun I caught, a slice of heaven clear through the clouds to my side, firmly planted by a Ponderosa sapling.

*******

Supplication: we asked the sky for blessing. It gave us rain and sleet and hail and snow and wind, yes, but also sun. We ran down the length of the sky, and our knees ached for days, falling as we did with gravity through the earth. This thing's holy now. We'd been to the mountaintop, and found our god, this sacristy of aches. Anything's holy now. We're tired by our weaknesses, tied together by our vulnerabilities. This thing, anything, everything's holy now.


5 comments:

matt said...

Two notes:

1) it looks as though said baby, the wee-est of saplings, may not need surgery after all. Some of the issues appear to be resolving themselves. This is a very happy development, indeed.

2) I finished writing this shortly before learning of the explosions in Boston. I... just don't have words.

Brandon said...

1. very happy, yes

2. no words

3. let's make the enchantments holy by enchanting the hell out of it

jon said...

It's so nice to read good writing. Now I want to print out pictures of the Pacific Northwest and just tack them up all over my walls like some hilly verdant shrine.

But I won't, because that's an insane idea, and I love my city with its litter, dirt, and grime.

That's a lazy rhyme.

Kerri Anne said...

1. Your words don't fail, love, exhibit (so many utterances, heartfelt sentiments, stories, over and under-caffeinated songs, "rawr"s, yes, and also) this.

II. Your words are stunning, send my heart running up unexpectedly verdant hillsides to beloved, weathered peaks laced with impenetrable quiet.

(JJ)3(PO). Here's to holy April, in all its brutal beauty.

Anna said...

Oh Matt, so much love. This was beautiful.