Enough is a feast.
There are days when my walls feel thick. Oppressively thick. Thick and dark, as though they’re pushing in on me and taunting my CFS/ME persistent need for rest. Days when I simply want to be outside these walls. Out and “doing,” rather than simply “being,” forever sitting on the maroon and cream colored roses that pattern my sofa. It’s not that I’m never able to be out and about. I am able at times to take short walks, enjoy an occasional visit with a friend, even attend worship now and again. I am grateful for each of these, but I so wish they were not so infrequent.
I’m grateful, too, for my sturdy walls and their protection from the bitter cold of January. From the heat of August. From rains and snows and winds. Grateful for these walls, oh yes. But there are days of weakness when I want to break them down and simply be done with all this resting. Exchange my sofa roses for the lilies and the iris that grow outside the confines of my barricades. I do not always like my walls.
But I have windows too. Bright openings in my walls. Openings that calm and reassure. That pull me out of torpor. That open up my walls, push back their taunts, and call me to a place of mindful, humble praise.
One of my windows, the window that watches while I sleep, looks to the west, through branches of an aging dogwood tree. One dogwood branch in particular has become a special friend. Constant in presence. Constant in attentiveness to mercies and beauty new every morning.
Her white blossoms greet me each spring.
In winter, she sometimes tats a delicate lace of snow…
…or tosses soft balls of cotton clouds into the sky.
In the evenings, I often see her through the window, waiting beneath a darkening sky that evokes in me a sometime shudder. Recently, however, there was a different night. I went to close the blinds but opened them instead, transfixed by bursts of light breaking through the menace of the black. Bursts of the Beyond, bursts of Light that shines, of Light no darkness will ever overcome.
Other evenings, not many, but a few, a grand cacophony of soundless color arches through the vastness of the sky. It’s then I almost hear my branch friend’s silent laughter chortling to defy the taunts of my thick walls.
Another window opens up directly across from the sofa roses of my rest. In spring, the vista through this opening is soft and promising, singing gentle songs of busy growth, renewal; sheer joy in all that is alive.
In the heat of summer, these same branches splash right through my window, bringing with them a sea-green coolness—so welcome and refreshing.
Then in the fall, the brilliance of the branches once again lights up my indoor space. Beautiful, but a bit foreboding as well. Drawing me into reveries of dyings I have known, more dyings that will come—for friends, for loved ones, one day for me. “Let them be,” I softly pray, “let them be endings both as bright and as unassuming as the falling of these radiant leaves.”
Through this window, too, in every season, my sea-toned wind chimes sparkle, some days with a stillness that quiets every fear that threatens me. Other days they skip and dance, almost bringing the wind inside to ruffle my hair and lift my sagging spirits.
Windows. They make me rich with wonders manifold. These wonders don’t exactly make my walls come Jericho-a-tumbling down. But windows have a way of pushing out the walls. A way of letting in the light. A way of lifting me, opening me, connecting me with what’s beyond. And I am grateful.
Grateful and aware. Aware that there are many in our world confined behind walls far thicker than mine. Walls of painful, crippling illness. Walls of oppression. Walls of punishment. Walls of prejudice and hate. Walls often with only tiny windows or with no windows at all. Walls that shrink minds and souls. Walls that leave spirits damp and dead.
So as I lay my window thanks upon my altar of gratitude, I lay as well a prayer for windows everywhere. A prayer for windows that will enrich, encourage, and embolden all who live behind life’s walls. A prayer for hastening of that day when walls—all walls—will be no more.
I lay you to rest, little one, your
body rigid, stilled, and so alone,
at the base of an old maple tree;
cover you with fallen twigs and leaves;
simple nest to shelter your returning to the
elements of earth and air.
I have no words to speak; simply
mark the spot with mottled rock;
breezes hum above, a wordless litany to
close your too-short life.
I knew you only in your death;
dark mystery laid out at dusk on our cold
deck, tiny feet clutching the air,
feathers shrouded black around your
fragile bones, wren-like beak sealed
tight against the whistle of the wind.
Such dignity in your demise, your
moon-white breast so still;
such fearsome beauty shining
bold, shining proud against the
emptiness of death…
…a shining that has brushed
across the calloused ridges of my
soul, awakened me (how easily I
fall asleep!) to cherish every
fleeting wonder of this life, every
marvel wrapped in wingèd joy,
before it, too, is laid to rest beneath an
old maple tree, leaving me to
ponder mysteries of hope that
lie so close, and yet so far beyond the
final shelters that we weave with all our
fallen twigs and leaves.
Farewell, little one.