Monday, April 7, 2014

The Church of Nature Gives...and It Takes Away

Holding the sun
What a glorious morning! The rising sun is peekabooing through fluffy clouds and there are promises of afternoon temps in the high sixties. This fine weather is especially welcome after last month’s record rainfall that led to a calamitous mudslide nearby, killing so many, and devastating a small community.

This brooding thought lingers for a few minutes until I come back to the itch that’s been teasing me lately: this time next week my wife and I will be on a plane returning home from a long weekend in Tulsa--my hometown--where a week from today our fiftieth high school reunion will be history. It's much easier to imagine it in the past tense, rather than what it will actually be. 

I’ve never gone to a reunion before. It’s been 25 years since I was last in Tulsa. Many of my classmates, especially those who stayed in Oklahoma, have kept in touch with a circle of friends, but me--not so much. It’s not the yearning for reestablishing connections that’s brought me back, although in a few instances that is the case; it’s more the symbolism of the occasion. 

Our high school graduation marked entry into an adulthood that’s led us in myriad directions. From that common point, over the past half century we have each forged lives that are unimaginably varied. We've  gone through a marriage or two or more, raised our kids, established an identity that’s rooted in where we came from but is mostly our own invention. Now we’re entering retirement, no longer bound to our wage-earning lives, and looking forward to God knows what. 

This seems a propitious time to not only mark a long passage, but to think about what’s next. For some reason, for me, entering this new stage means going back to the place where my parents raised me, to gather among former classmates who have opted to make the same journey. On this trip, I’m blessed to have my sparkly-eyed wife for company. 

We got our inexpensive tickets online through Cheap-O Air. We'll leave for Tulsa way early Friday morning, and don’t have assigned seats yet on Monday's leg home from Dallas. I’m hoping for a free upgrade, but prepared for the two of us to have scattered seats in the rear. 

Unbidden, in my mind’s eye, an image of those airplane “seats” morphs into a newsreel shot of sodden muddy cushions, splintered timbers sticking out of the sludge, and much worse--that deadly slide again. At least the friendly weather will make it easier for recovery crews, and hopefully cast a bit of warmth and light on the affected families’ futures.

For me, today is a good day for a walk down to the beach, and up to the ridge overlooking the Sound. The water will be calm, the sun glittering off its surface, and I'll be thankful for the moment just to be, and let the future take care of itself.

And the miraculous comes so close
to the ruined, dirty houses—

something not known to anyone at all
But wild in our breast for centuries.
--Anna Akhmatnova