Tuesday, June 17, 2014

and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas: collaboration #8

june 29, 2014 - rainbow spume of hunchback whale, Sitka, Alaska
1 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! 
who hast set thy glory above the heavens. 
2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings 
hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies,
 that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 
3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, 
the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 
4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? 
and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 
5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, 
and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 
6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; 
thou hast put all things under his feet: 
7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 
8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, 
and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. 
9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

This doubling back of time, tripling back -- time turning in on itself every 150 days has begun to dizzy me.  

There's nothing exterior to keep this cycle straight.  It's not a seasonal circling like the grand processional around the sun with its regular returns of birds and familiar flowers, punctuated by the times my children fly home to me, the times they go away.  It's not a weekly breakdown of routine and small dispersals, not the moon's monthly recognizable rolling in and out of phase.  There is no outward pattern of changing length of light, no temperature clues to tell me that  how excellent is thy name in all the earth is coming around again.  Only the austere machinery of an arbitrary order. 

Repeating days are geared together for no apparent similarity to one another, 150 days around, however they fall out, because there are 150 psalms.  And lately there are gears within gears, gearing down to smaller gears, as I've fallen into a habit of letting days slip by with a quick jot, a snapshot -- just enough to hold it in memory, maybe -- until I can stop living long enough to write about it.  And so I slide a day behind, a week behind, and now, today (the first of July), two weeks behind.

I can never write as fast as I can live it.  I can barely see it as I live it.

august 17, 2014 - juvenile literature mural, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
 When I was a child my mother kept a yellowing paperback of the script for Our Town by Thornton Wilder in her bookshelf.  So I read it lazily, recurrently, through the summers of my growing up.  Swallowed down unquestioningly, parts of it must have become part of me when I wasn't looking.  Now I keep hearing Emily's cry:
Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anyone to realize you. . . .  Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? 
I tell myself I'll let consider thy heavens go this time and catch it again next time around. Next time I'll sound the depths.  Next time breach the surface, breathing out some rainbow spume of praise. 

What is man, that thou art mindful of him?  Man so very unmindful, woman with mind made bare by shopping lists, small circling complaints, recurrent worries?  Even a day is too much for me to hold in mind.  When Emily, newly deceased, plans to return to relive just one day of her earlier life, she's counselled
At least, choose an unimportant day.  Choose the least important day in your life.  It will be important enough.

august 20, 2013 - top deck parking, PDX International Airport, Portland, Oregon
That is probably part of the problem.

This eighth day already dawned with too much importance.

For a long week I've sat on this post . . . waiting to recover candlelit pictures of Young's face over his thirteenth birthday cake, pictures I know I took with someone's camera somewhere of the moment my little boy crossed over into young manhood . . . hoping to discover a picture of Fritz amongst my files that could somehow illustrate the hinge-point of our marriage that this anniversary is, the day where I am as many years now married as ever I lived single.  And that was just the first time around. Now I've gone around with a little lower than the angels three times, picking up accretions of details each time I pass through.

In the order of things that is this cycle through the psalms, this is not the day I saw my first whale (that's still to come).  Nor the day Eldest flies home before our last grand All-Family Bike (that day was already.  I just forgot to mention it).

june 17, 2014 - butterfly collection, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
This is the day (and days) of

  • making mint chocolate birthday cake from bars of best chocolate, 
  • standing before the Indonesian statue of the flute player, 
  • reading Brazilian woodcut pamphlets and watching Brazilian futbol, 
  • eating chimichurri sauce on black pepper roast sandwiches at a small table with my youngest boy, 
  • laughing over a friend's "gastroenterology, body surfing, disturbance in the force, yeast infection, F150, desert storm, and Constantinople" posted just to throw Facebook's data-miners a curve ball, 
  • admiring the collected powdery wings of butterflies whose bodies have been stuck through with a pin, 
  • counting tuxedoes with the other mother of the groom who sounds as much at sea as I feel, 
  • walking beneath the tree with millions upon millions of tiny flowers so swoony sweet whose name I cannot bring to mind, 
  • finding Fritz and Young oiling everyone's bike chains, 
  • reading again of the heroic WWII peasants of Le Chambon, 
  • running across campus with Mijo in a sudden rain, 
  • settling into theater seats for How to Train Your Dragon 2, 
  • running my eyes over and over again the jade scales of a samurai suit of armor, 
  • remembering "the gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God," 
  • walking the pool with a friend who has moved away, our long and easy talk - no urgency - but murmurous and comforting, 
  • and finally setting food panniers standing open propped against the freezer for tomorrow morning's ice blocks, hummus, yogurt and cut veggies.

That's the day this is. The days that were this eight psalm.  But that is not this day, not any of them.  The most important thing about each day has slipped away.
We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being,
says the stage manager in Our Town. 

There's something eternal about every day.  

the day that this is not
So it's fitting 8 looks so much like .  In the Bible stories, as you may know, eight just means many -- eight souls saved from the flood, eight days wandering in the desert -- it was not a counting, but a sweeping characterization.  If seven is the number of completion, eight is the completion of completion, the numberless, the whole.  Seven days of creation . . . and then the eighth day?  That's just the rest of history.

And here's me, so caught up in the infinite shimmering shoals of the created that I'm forever losing sight of the eternally creative excellence that sings and shines beneath, behind, beyond it all.


Lisa B. said...

This series of posts is beautiful to me. Beautiful, with glory and an ache in them. I am in too much of something here at the moment to compose a proper comment, but I do want you to know I'm reading, and that what you're writing is meaningful to me.

I hope I get to see you again sometime, with lemonade or without!

Emma J said...

Thank you for letting me know -- I would write them anyway because this series is demanding it of me somehow. But it is sweet to know someone is out there in the dark catching these wild tosses.

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