Tuesday, December 8, 2009
A Tree With Lights
Today the weather here is rather serious, it demands our full attention. The temperature is hovering around 17 degrees Fahrenheit, we have 6+ inches of new snow on the ground and it is falling fast. It looks like a Dr. Pepper snow shovelin' - "shovel at 10, 2 and 4" kind of day. The excited young weatherman on the TV says temps will keep going down and wind speed and snow totals will keep going up over the coming couple of days. No school and no unnecessary driving propels us deep within, our homes if not our souls.
I spent some quality time this morning next to our Christmas tree, a fresh-smelling, "you-cut" cedar-ey thing (can't remember the exact kind) decked within an inch of toppling over with many-colored lights and sparkly glass globes. It sits in the corner of our living room like a martyred saint, like a young-tree Bodhisattva of peace, kindness, forgiveness, goodwill to all mankind and deep illuminations. It is a symbol of the Tree of Life, redeemed and reclaimed by The Numinous, with it's fruits no longer forbidden, Christ's life having healed the rift.
One of my all time favorite books (which I haven''t read in 20 years - memo to self, re-read it!) is Annie Dillard's Pilgrim At Tinker Creek. If you've never read it, get yourself a copy on the double. It is a wise and wonderful set of musings on nature, God and the examined life. She describes her experience of a tree with lights:
When the doctor took her bandages off and led her into the garden, the girl who was no longer blind saw "the tree with the lights in it." It was for this tree I searched through the peach orchards of summer, in the forests of fall and down winter and spring for years. Then one day I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with the lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed. It was less like seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance. The lights of the fire abated, but I'm still spending the power. Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells unflamed and disappeared. I was still ringing. I had my whole life been a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck. I have since only rarely seen the tree with the lights in it. The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, for the moment when the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam.
--Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974).
Happy holidays from The Rosemary Tree. Peace.