At sundown when a day’s words
have gathered at the feet of the trees
lining up in silence
to enter the long corridors
of the roots into which they
pass one by one thinking
they remember the place
as they feel themselves climbing
away from their only sound
while they are being forgotten
by their bright circumstances
they rise through all the rings
afterward as they
listened once and they come
to where the leaves used to live
during their lives but have gone now
and they too take the next step
beyond the reach of meaning
~ W. S. Merwin “To a Leaf Falling in Winter”
“Last forever!” Who hasn’t prayed that prayer? You were lucky to get it in the first place. The present is a freely given canvas. That it is constantly being ripped apart and washed downstream goes without saying.
~Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
…writing was one way to let something of lasting value emerge
from the pains and fears of my little, quickly passing life.
Each time life required me to take a new step into unknown spiritual territory,
I felt a deep, inner urge to tell my story to others–
Perhaps as a need for companionship but maybe, too,
out of an awareness that my deepest vocation
is to be a witness to the glimpses of God I have been allowed to catch.
For too much of my life I have focused on the future, bypassing the present in my headlong rush to what lies ahead. There is always a goal to achieve, a conclusion becoming commencement of the next phase, a sunset turning right around in a few hours to become sunrise.
Yet the most precious times occur when the present is so overwhelming, so riveting, so tenderly full of life that I see a brief glimpse of God. I must grab hold with all my strength to try and secret it away and keep it forever. Of course the present still slips away from me, elusive and evasive, torn to bits by the unrelenting movement of time.
Even if I was able to take a photo to lock it to a page or screen, it is not enough. No matter how I choose to preserve the canvas of the present, it is passed, ebbing away never to return.
I must wonder at the present by focusing less on the foreshortening future.
So I write to harvest those times to make them last a little bit longer. Maybe not forever; they will inevitably be lost downstream into the ether of unread words.
Even if unread, I am learning that words, which had power in the Beginning to create life, bring tenderness and meaning back to my life. How blessed to live the gift twice: not just in the moment itself but in writing words that preserve and treasure it all up, if only for a moment before they fall, completed.