"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing —
to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from —
my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing,
all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back."

~C.S. Lewis


Friday, August 26, 2011

Moving among the worlds

To return this night to my small corner of the teeming anthill, my cliff-dwelling cave, I would turn right. Logic extends her hand and asks me to follow her there; she seeks to show me the people and the buildings, the manicured paths and the sculptured fountain. The doors watch me with their deep, mahogany eyes, beckoning.

To the right lies reality. But to the left lies home.

Leftward, onward, quiet grace of columns sweep heavenward while deep tapestry rugs keep my feet; I feel them through soft leather-thin shoes—a sister’s gift. They take me softly across the floor, for in dancer’s lightness I wish to be neither seen nor heard. Let no one find me, let this place be at peace. I give a returning grace to the greeting of the prayer chapel, decades my senior, watching me with age-old eyes. Lost in a world where what is real is bent and what I know may change, I turn a corner, floating in medieval Italy, entranced in a story of love and of pain, whispering the words of star-crossed lovers. I myself seek to move across the stars.

I start; before me lies someone not in my world, or, perhaps, I am no longer in hers. She sits—I stand—two worlds. The Bard’s words die in my throat like the lovers about whom they speak. I smile, I nod, greetings exchanged, eyes soften; she returns to her land and I slip pass, eager to return to mine.

Almost home—almost free—I lean my weight into the towering deep wood doors, both small hands pressing against huge wood-carvings a thousand more have touched. I look up and up to the ceiling high ahead, hearing the creak-wood groan under my grasp and wonder—is this is how Aragorn felt when he threw open the doors and announced the coming of war?

But I am not going to war, not now, not yet, at least. Someday. Perhaps, in this place of age and beauty, of weddings and poems, of prayers and peace, this will contain enough magic to bring me through. The kindly door, deep dark with calm, lets me through, and I step outside into the fresh air. Will this be the time I step through the wardrobe? I hear the beckoning horn.


Not Narnia, not now, but yet still Aslan’s world. I smile, step out, skirt swinging, eyes dancing. This is a night from heaven.

The flowers are blooming—daylilies, daffodils, yellow, pink, red, so many I do not know the names of. I should ask my grandmother. Their petals cascade over one another, each vying for the chance to give beauty. I wish to be such as they.

The descending stairs of stone lift me up with quiet hands, accompanying my journey down to the crystal lake turned red by the dying fire-sun. I step down them, faster and faster, steps cascading onto each other, and I will myself to be free and fly. I am drawn by this blood-red water—life blood—water of life. The shoes—off. The bag—dropped to the ground. Close now to the water, the breeze shyly says hello and my wind-blown curls return the greeting. Hello. I’m glad you’re here, too.

I sink down into the grass and close my eyes, and the glory of this evening lets me be nothing but be filled with shalom of the kingdom. It is bittersweet; I long to share it with someone who could understand and who could see and who could know my soul’s perfect bliss-glory in this moment without my having to breathe a word. There is one. But she is in her own home of windswept waters and bright-beauty flowers, in a land across the sea.

And I am alone.

I move among my worlds. Now in ancient Italy on a balcony—now here in America by a lake—now there in Narnia before a throne. Now speaking verse, now staying quiet, willing time to slow.

But it doesn’t. For every minute that passes, a golden leaf drifts to the ground, decorating the outdoor carpet with autumn tinsel. I must go back. My time here has ended. I pick up my shoes and move through the grass, yet an unashamed rebellion rises in my veins: I will not walk on the black-souled concrete, I will not step into the city’s land. Instead, I skirt the curb and walk barefoot among the wildflowers, feet wet with evening’s dewy kiss, skirt blowing softly in its own dance.

I pass a friend. “You look beautiful,” she says.

I hope so.

Moving forward, passing on, seeing people, coming back as in time-travel to the land I left minutes and decades ago. I come to the edge of the grassy road and look back at the crystal sea. I will go back, I know I will, for that is home. I will go back when I am called, just as I was this evening.

For if I listen closely, quietly, I hear the horn’s quiet summons fading into the approaching night.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"She Walks in Beauty"

I heard about this poem only just this evening, when my friend mentioned it by name. With a name like that, I thought, it simply had to be wonderful.

And I was right.

"She Walks in Beauty"
By Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!