I am reading a book these gray December afternoons, breathing in toward the poetic words and out toward my own life’s reflections. It’s called Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature by Kathleen Dean Moore.
It may not be allowed to share this paragraph with you due to copyright restraints, but I shall do so anyway until someone shakes their finger with a warning frown. Perhaps, instead, you will scurry to your nearest book shop and purchase this book of nature essays yourself and read as 2017 births into new possibilities.
She writes: The door to the woodstove squealed as Frank reached in to stir the fire. I backed my soreness against its warmth. I felt like an old woman, which would have been all right, except I was the wrong old woman. When the time comes, I want to be the woman Hank wrote about. She was a regular old plaid-jacketed Alaskan until she began losing her capacities. She lost the ability to balance. She lost access to her memories. Her hair fell out. One by one, the capacities we think are essential dropped away, until she was stripped of all conscious thought and intention, leaving only the transparency of her inner mind. But what she had stored there, though all a lifetime, was radiant. Hank says that when they sat together, watching rain roll down the window, what ballooned from her was glass-clear gladness. That’s what she had left. That’s what she had become.
Kathleen then writes: How does a person do that? This is what I need to know.
I don’t know, dear reader, if that’s what you want. But that’s what I want. So that when and if everything falls away–which someday it shall, perhaps with our dying breath–all that’s left is glass-clear gladness. I wouldn’t even say gladness. I would say shining awareness. Pristine, compassionate, shining. All-encompassing. Radiant.
The world and our minds may try to rob us of that birthright of radiance, but it’s the essence of who we all are. I do know that. We can get so caught up and befuddled and confused in the ever-changing world that never ceases spinning something different. But beneath it, our birthright exists. The old woman knew that and when her mind left…the glass-clear gladness remained.