"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




Thursday, April 25, 2013

Windchimes in the night


I

"I'm not ready to die."

In the glow of my nightstand clock blinking 11:32 p.m., I set down the purple pen and the bedside notepaper kept there to record thoughts and images and prayers that flit at the edges of consciousness, appearing only in the filmy gauze between awake and asleep. I don’t want to forget those words, because they often contain truths I don’t realize when the sun is up and there are friends and bills and books. But just before I fall asleep, I drop my guard for just long enough to, sometimes, hear my spirit like windchimes in the night.

And tonight, I realize I am not ready to die, which means I am not truly living.

An hour later, my flowered sheets are nearly ripped off my bed with continual tossing and my Bible lies open to Psalm 61 and outside, a blizzard sets more snow on top of 7” already fallen.
And if I can rouse myself from the trance of what’s wrong to find something stable in this world, something either awake or asleep and not this place of in between, perhaps I will be all right. The snow is falling harder now, at 12:43 a.m., and as a child on Christmas morning I need to be out in it, within the beauty I see. Or within its war, or pain, or fighting, or longing, I don’t know.
I unlock the sliding door, push back the curtain (soundless, now, with roommates asleep), and without thinking, abandon my socks in a heap on the carpet.

Outside. The purple sky is a halo to the glittered white world; if I am trying to be asleep, I can pretend I’m Alice down the rabbit hole, but if I want to be awake, then it is just city lights on city clouds with smog, sometimes, and sirens.

The patio soaks cold through my bare feet, but just wet, not snow, and in one more step, I am barefoot in the storm. The snow over my feet is not as cold as expected; it wakes me from my fog to focus on one thing: ice, slush, April, and what it is to stand in your nightgown barefoot in the snow in your apartment by County Road D.

I wait to hear from God, in the snow, as if somehow it is more holy to be there. And in a way, perhaps it is: it is more holy because I can hear. In the parking lot are seven lampstands, twenty-three entombed cars. I feel snow turning to ice water under my toes and wonder how many millions of snowflakes I have just melted by standing there; each one unique, they say, and I have destroyed them. And the wind blows my hair from its braid, and I wait for God’s voice.

Nothing.

And the silence is beautiful.

There is no less of God in silence than there is in words; there is no less beauty in mystery as there is when all is known. The grass withers, the flowers fade, not one sparrow drops apart from Him, and are they not all clothed more beautifully than ye?

And God does speak.

Because as ten trillion million snowflakes pour from the sky in sunbeams of snow and a thousand land in my hair and my hands and on bare feet and I behold infinity, I hear Him say, “This is how much I love you.”

Standing barefoot in the snow is my small act of rebellion against a normal life. Pathetic, vulnerable, alone, and not enough, but tonight, at 12:43 a.m., it’s all I can do.

And at the end of my path from bed to snow perhaps I’ve walked the way of God.