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I am glad—Still more to be gleaned from my study window this morning:

The finest mist freezes, midair, and saturates the plank fence across the backyard; it decomposes the twiggy circumference of the empty sparrow’s nest, from the summer, lodged among branches of the snowflake verbena. A few of its monkish leaves still clings as if grieving the loss of the chick’s family.

Beneath the shrub, the crystal droplet swells from the tip of a fallen leaf, its indecision like a toddler’s first steps: there is security in holding on.

Sudden movement in the corner of the yard distracts me. A mature squirrel, its pelt blending with the trunk of the London plane tree, pauses, then scrambles to a higher limb and disappears. Below, snow swirls pattern the bleached grass with feathery fingers. More melting islands of what looks likes snow creates rivulets across the pavers of my patio and slinks into the muddy corners, across more spent leaves. The ground appears juicy, its remote preparation for spring, in the making. The softest of breezes seems to slumber this world, dormant with life.

Prayer easily follows sloshing around in play boots stamped with ladybugs.

A sugar maple flames above me. Slippery winds nudge a single leaf from its mooring:

Like a gymnast, it flips, sworls, twists, down, down, down. Then cartwheels upon glistening brick walk until flattened. Musk steams from the landing.

Prostrate, the leaf opens to the inevitable: Its ocher stem dried like a useless umbilical cord; hairy veins, empty of nutrients. Stillness gawks at the sacrifice.

Yet such decay rejuvenates the cycle. Again, spring’s leafing will flicker beneath sun-drenched skies.

“And what color will your outfit be?” Dad asked of his women: Mother, my sister Martha, and me, days before our annual June vacation. Our trunks had already been shipped to their destination. Excitement mounted as last suitcases were snapped shut; as the truck from Kruse Florist rumbled up the circle drive and delivered three corsages, each with our names; as Dad beamed in the taxi taking us to Union Station and the train.

Once inside our compartment, I floated my corsage in the brass sink in hopes of preserving its beauty. As hours passed, I checked its color, its freshness, but to no avail. Even then, I had no tolerance for deterioration and death.

Why such abhorrence of death, integral to all life forms, including ours? Again, Dr. Singh addresses this question in The Grace in Dying. It has to do with life and death, the Second of the Four Dualisms that an infant confronts in the development of his/her mental ego. Rather than be swamped by the unknowability of death, he sets a critical boundary behind which life continues unfolding on a manageable scale: the size of a postage stamp, per Dr. Singh. Only when threatened by terminal illness or significant losses does death cower over us.

Thus begins the necessary dismantling of the mental ego with the dissolution of the other Dualisms: self and not-self, mind and body split, and the acceptable and unacceptable, each having served their purpose. Central to this purifying process is the Ground of Being, or God, with whom the individual is preparing to remerge, with full consciousness. Bliss follows.

 

 

 

Yet, I still feel uneasy tossing out five-day-old tulips, their blooms withered, their leaves faded, their stems meandering.

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