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The timbered great door stands ajar. Silence infiltrates the light brilliancing the hardwood floor with its intrusion into darkness: So unexpected, so frightening, an irritant to eyes accustomed to living within the grip of shadows.

No one seems around.

The urge to explore this new realm discomforts. A response is called for, despite peppering fears similar to nail guns securing tiles to tar-papered roofs—It’s safer to remain with the familiar, however outworn. That’s what everyone says. Yet, the light persists, the light beckons, the light warms.

How many times have I stood upon such a threshold? Let go of opportunities for growth? Settled for less rather than embracing the necessary sacrifice to forge ahead? For too many years have I chosen the half-light, but no more. My senior years are thinning, and my friends are diminishing through death and disease. Even my energies are like spend-saver salt.

The paradox of this diminishment opens me even more to the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. He is the open door to Light’s abundance. “Anyone who enters through me will be safe.” (John 10:9) This, alone, satisfies, even now.

 

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A sense of fluttering between life and death pervades the novel, Flight Behavior (2012) by Barbara Kingsolver. A master wordsmith, she seams three stories together: the twenty-seven year old Dellarobia Turnbow, with shoulder-length red hair, in a lackluster marriage working with in-laws on their hardscrabble sheep farm; the plight of millions of Monarch butterflies wintering, by mistake, upon their mountain forest in Appalachia; and global pollution threatening this fragile ecosystem.

For five months, both Dellarobia and the butterflies remain suspended in animation, their future unknown as they endure bone-chilling rains, muddied paths, and near freezing temperatures.

A quickening arrives in the person of Dr. Byron, entomologist and life-long student of Monarch butterflies, from a university in New Mexico. He visits this phenomenon and with his associates sets up a lab in the Turnbow sheep barn to monitor this catastrophe. He also enlists Dellarobia’s help. The flickering of Monarchs clumped for warmth against tree trunks stirs probing questions within this young mother. Like the butterflies’ instinct for survival, she roots around the predictable corners of her life and imagines a different one for herself. In the process, she finds her voice and raises significant questions to her spouse, his family, and her community, all the while caring for eighteen-month Cordie and her inquisitive brother; both offer a much-needed comic relief.

Only Barbara Kingsolver could bring all this to a head with her finger on the faint pulse of life, with textural images that breathe, and with the ecstasy of release. A riveting read, from the first page.

 

 

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The sun-packed earth continues expelling earthworms onto the pavement and certain death. Sidestepping six of them, crusted and dark like wintry twigs, gave me pause during yesterday’s walk. Their wiggle-room hardening around them, they had bolted for a different milieu, only to be fried by the sun. Such mayhem ushered in the summer solstice last Sunday.

In a parallel sense, the inflamed media spews images of the hard and unyielding world around us, images contrived to undermine spirit and to incite fear. Like the earthworm in dire straights, we cast about for relief. But where do we go? How wrap words around our restlessness? Who or what can moisten our imagination, empower us to try something different?

There is a response to this madness. Within our sacred depths, moist gardens bloom with lantana, marigolds, Gerber lilies, and so much more; bold colors that hearten, that take a stand. Access to this inner realm requires daily cultivation with silence, with humility, and with truth. Through these practices, we learn to screw on our soaker hoses to the Source and thrive.

And like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace of King Nebuchadnezzar, we “walk in the heart of the flames, praising and blessing the Lord. Daniel 3:24

Note: This blog was composed before last weekend’s thunderstorms; their violence recreated wiggle-room for earthworms. We give thanks.

 

 

 

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