Friday, March 26, 2010

A Shadow

The light dances away from the sun in waves and particles. It shoots into the atmosphere and blazes down to the surface of the lake in my backyard. Bouncing, jubilant little waves catch it and toss it back at the sky and into my eyes, making the sun's reflection roll and twist in front of me.

But when the light hits the wooden dock, it ricochets back like a ping pong ball, no dancing involved. The dock is flat, hard, firm. The light hits it and leaves it at a perfect angle without fail, revealing the textures of the grain and the tired faces of the aging boards. No distortion, one direction.

Then I notice something. No wait, it's nothing. As the light hits me, it splinters. It can't go through. It bounces off of me first, never reaching the smooth wood of the floating dock. No light touches my outlined form, no light is reflected by the dock so that I can see it and it's devious shapes.

The lack of light isn't a something that I noticed, it's a nothing. A shadow is nothing, a non-existence.

A shadow is whatever I can't see, whatever I can't discern. Do I fear my shadow? Perhaps I would be more afraid if I had no shadow and the light could see through me... Then I would be open, clear, completely visible, vulnerable.

Terrifying, isn't it?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Ripple

It wakes up in the sky somewhere, stretching and shaking off a sleepy daze. Slowly moving, awakening to the sensations of other air currents, it dives into the river of wind and air swirling around. It's tossed and carried along like a plastic bag on a windy day. Then, in the distance, it spies something marvelous: a lake, so pristine, glimmering faintly in the early morning light, so inviting. It wants to, it could; no, it must!

It shoots towards the water's surface, pulled towards the delicious sight by some unseen force.

It pauses for a moment, hovering just above the water. Stretching out finger-like wisps of itself, it barely brushes the stagnant skin. The water moves for the fragile fingers, ebbing away and apart, giving them room, creating ripples. Ripples. It gasps at the wonder unfolding and folding in front of it. The little waves continue, rippling and growing wider and wider, farther and farther.

There's no hesitation now. It reaches across the entire lake and splashes like a child, frolicking on the surface until the whole body of water is covered in delicate ripples. It chases them and turns them this way and that. It breathes, blowing on the water, watching it move, feeling it yield beneath it. Pure ecstasy.

When I dip my oar in the water, pulling the water toward me, pushing it away, it watches. It rushes past me, whispering,

More, more, more ripples.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's Polite

It's a courtesy that's not widely recognized in America (or maybe the world) much anymore, a thought that has slowly rusted and decayed, shrunken and withered away to something small, optional, unnecessary. Yet, I remember it well.

I casually glance over my shoulder to see how closely someone is walking to me, gauge the distance. I reach the door and without hesitation, fling it open, stepping to the side and gripping the handle as I do. With a practiced flip of my head, I turn and smile and the stranger who's about to go inside, whose suspicious face only makes the act more exciting. Yes, most people look at me with a mix of surprise, annoyance, disgust, and mistrust when I open the door for them, but someone has to break the ice, right? They hustle through the door and try not to make eye contact, mumbling a quiet thanks and continuing on their way. I slide in after them, grinning.

On some occasions, I'll open to the door and be thanked heartily by a kind soul who understands the gesture. Their face lights up and their smile stretches out till it touches their ears, and they eagerly walk through the open door. Maybe it's people like them that really keep me going at it.

Even more so, I love it when people hold the door open for me. I feel like a queen, a star. When someone opens the door for me, it's as if they're acknowledging me as a fellow human being, a dear person who deserves to be cared about. I instantly start to think, I must be beautiful, I must be sweet-looking, I must have the most amazing smile if someone would bother opening a door for me. It's such a little thing, such a small act of kindness, yet it touches my heart so deeply.

Who holds open the door to love, so that we who are burdened, carrying the luggage of the world, and cannot hope of reaching the handles, may enter into love's sweet presence? Who opens the door?

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Mockingbird

We - my mom, aunt, grandma, and I - were lazing on the dock this past weekend and enjoying the sweet rareness of the moment, both the unusually warm March weather and all of us girls sitting together at one time, when our easy chat was interrupted by the charming twitter of a bird sitting in the tree nearby. We listened for a few moments as his tune changed from high-pitched chirps to throaty warbles and back to sweet tweets again. It was quite a marvelous composition.

While none of us are exactly bird experts, we decided that this little Beethoven was definitely a mockingbird. Craning my neck around and straining my eyes to pick out movement in the still leafless branches, I saw him, a bland-colored little thing without any impressive features to match his loud voice. At first, I was sure he couldn't be the one because he sat so still even as his volume grew and his notes swelled. However, my grandma was sure that he was indeed the grand vocalist. He entertained us for quite some time, his melody as fickle as the chilly wind, before flying off to another perch across the lake.

I think that he's come to stay in our niche of the lake though. Several times since his first performance I've heard him singing, and just this morning I noticed him courageously fighting a pair of blue jays for the bird house in our backyard.

Before I met this little fellow, I had always been befuddled by authors who praised mockingbirds in their stories. Little did I know that these most ingenious little birds could sing in such interesting ways. I even feel inspired by Jerry Spinelli's book Love, Stargirl to put out an orange slice for the mockingbird and encourage him to stay.

A mockingbird sings for someone special, a soul mate placed in the world that can only be found by singing his inner most song, a lover not yet met that will fall so in love with his song she never leaves. Sing on, sing on, oh mockingbird.