Monday, April 19, 2010
Life and Death
The new growth of spring is so exuberant right now it's almost possible to forget that death exists. Life explodes into the air: Blossoms that were tight and protected yesterday are unfurled into bright shreds of color today. Pollen floats and collects everywhere. New Sword Ferns, no longer quite fiddleheads and not yet full fronds, look for all the world like tiny pelican heads tucked against green-feathered chests.
The air is thick with bird song, the drone of a single fat bumble bee, and moisture. A millipede, glossy black with yellow racing stripes, shines against grass that redefines green with each passing hour. Dogwood blooms glow like giant white stars against the gentle gray of today's sky.
I wander behind Toby along a trail so familiar to us both I know exactly where I'll see the single Corydalis bloom - pink fairy hats extended above soft fingers of green lace, and the small clump of Fawn Lilies. A single Trillium blossom, unusually large, is losing its pure white to the blush that means its season is already over. This is the beginning of a death, but so beautiful an untrained eye might believe it to be the beginning of a life.
A single Pintail Duck squawks his way up the river - he's a regular, his mate most likely sitting on eggs somewhere close by. Toby, like a bloodhound, tracks the deer whose hoofprints dot the soft soil, then gives chase when a rabbit veers across his path into the bushes–never successful, but always hopeful.
In the midst of this holiness I consider an erupting volcano, collapsed mines, countries ravaged by earthquakes - all miles and miles away, yet feeling in this moment as close as the bright yellow Wood Violets scattered at my feet. What am I to do with the abundance of life surrounding me while there is so much suffering in the world? So much death.
I breathe in air that tastes a bit piney, and a bit sweet–redolent of Oregon Grape blossoms, and a bit tainted. As though something died far off in the bushes and the wind is just now mixing its scent into the complicated perfume of the day. This death is undeniable–no beauty to mask the shadow here.
With as much consciousness as I'm able to muster, I soak it all in–every bit of this glorious afternoon. I tuck it into the nooks and crannies of my cells and my heart, accumulated and bundled with ribbons of gratitude, then I shoot it all out into the sky as comfort and love to everyone for whom death has eclipsed the light for now. I don't know what else to do but be fully present and then offer it all up. To be as fully alive as possible, knowing death waits for us all in one form or another.
photo from Flickr