Much of the time, I have no idea.
And, it is easy today to start fresh with that lack. Oh, I have ideas . . . galore. Entire lots of them. If they were trees, they’d be a nice stand [of trees] like Dad always said when we would be out and about in nature and there it was: a nice stand of trees. They were trees we could touch individually, but the stand of them had to be beheld; it was more than could be taken in by touch, really, yet when we gazed at the group, we were seeing a single thing. Each stand—we saw many of them over the years, same words, same feelings, and thoughts, same encounter, every time—was a fellowship in the forest, a meeting of the majestic, a cadre of cellulose, and in my ardor I am accentuating all alliteration.
“Stand” is the word for these living things that belonged together, right there right then to be seen and touched and beheld by others.
I had no idea, then, that I would be writing, not on paper made from such trees, but into the ether by way of a well-designed computer with an apple on it. I admire its clean design, functionality, lack of fussiness, and the way that I can control its “desktop” making it into my space. I like it, early in the mornings now, when I can listen (in the background) to soft music and putter away, putting my lack of idea into space-time for you. And I like that I am doing it from Dad’s chair while thinking of him with part of my brain, and feeling him with part of my heart and sharing him with part of my soul, and retaining part of him in my body as well.
Before any of this, I made coffee, thought about a few things of importance and prayed them in a foggy way, and then sat down, in Dad’s chair, and reached to my left for the book of readings, the book from the Franciscans that I got on a certain day and have read daily since. And it strikes me as perfect, the interval of time, from when I received the book to today, this particular day. An ideal interval as in a measure of rest within a stunning composition that is still being written, but is also being played as it is written.
The readings have all been from the Psalms and when I flipped ahead through the book I noticed Psalm after Psalm as the basis for the author’s thoughts. Larry—his name is Larry—is a gentle spirit I know, with kind eyes, and we have talked a bit. But, he and I will talk more at some point, and he will eventually tell me what the source of his slight anxiousness is, why I sense a trace of doubt or inauthenticity, and why he tries so hard to overcome it. I have no idea, of course, but I know that when Larry and I do reach the point in our paths when we can really talk, then I will remember what I have written about what I know.
Why, then, today of all days, when I opened to 22 July and began reading the thoughts and selections and then the scripture, was there no Psalm? There was, instead, a reference to Mary Magdalene and a reading from John 20 right there in the center of all the Psalms. I flipped to the next page. A Psalm. The next and next, all Psalms.
But on this day, here was Mary, and here was John. Mary, the patron saint of those who love much and are forgiven much. And John, my book, if I had to choose one. Choose three? Okay, Genesis, Job, and John complete with alliteration (and Romans is in my head already, as I once told a dear soul who has passed). Choose a Bible woman, this Mary. Choose a book, this John. Why today? I have no idea.
But, thank you, God, for the birthday gift.
Photograph “Not far from here” © 2018 Timothy Waugh