Proof of the incarnation. We could never embody beauty this way without an indwelling spirit. Just what I needed at the end of this sad and tragic year. Thank you, Yuzuru Hanyu.
O Love, that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Light, that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy, that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.
I put the dog out this morning and heard sleet falling but couldn’t see it or feel it. The sound of it hitting the bare trees was like a world full of tiny invisible piccolos playing quiet staccato notes. In a few minutes it had collected enough to see it on the deck, and on the dog (who was whining to come in). The invisible became real.
This third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday, from the first word of this day’s Latin mass, meaning “Rejoice.” Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. For centuries Christians have been singing some version of this introit at this point in the Advent season. It’s a blending of Psalm 85 and Philippians 4, Hebrew and Greek together.
I never knew that before. What a glad thought. I wonder how those two passages came to be sung as one song? It’s a marvelous image, people living amidst all the words together, Hebrew and Greek and everything else, words all around them all the time, in the air, the dust, dripping from the clouds, ringing out from stars they can’t see behind the clouds. I imagine it sounding like the ice this morning, tiny notes that no one felt or saw but that played about them always.
I’d love to live in that kind of world. Maybe I do and just can’t hear it for the noise. But I’d guess there was a lot of noise in their world, too, so the words must sort themselves out somehow. If I just keep singing them, I’ll say, rejoice. And again, I’ll say, rejoice.
Night on Istiklal St, Istanbul (2011)
It’s 46℉ and foggy this morning. It looks and feels like March, my favorite season of the year. November and March are a season unto themselves—the vestibule between fall and winter, winter and spring. The mudroom where you keep your rubber boots because this is the season when you’re going to need them. I call these times the Mud Season.
March mud has the voice of spring, the smell of the struggle to crack the shell of winter. One morning you realize you’re hearing red-winged blackbirds. Hundreds of them. They say, Hey, I’m back! Winter’s over! And then another snowstorm hits. But they hang out in the trees and say, I’m still here! Winter really is over! Promise!
Pretty soon I see green shoots coming up through the mud, and I take a million pictures of them even though they look the same every spring and they’re not really all that interesting in a photo. But the mud, the birds, the green shoots! I’m still here!
November mud is about closing down for the season. The decaying fall underfoot smells like an old root cellar with a few apples still in it. Dark, clammy, a little haunting.
The wetlands out back turn into flat fields of dried out goldenrod, packed down by early winter snow and deer. The red-winged blackbirds leave. The ticks go into hibernation, so we can take the dog for a run in the now frozen wetlands and lose a few more tennis balls under the bracken. We go through a lot of tennis balls in the winter. Sometimes we find them again in the spring.
Suddenly I see mushrooms in the backyard. At least 4 different kinds, plus a panoply of tree fungi.
Suddenly I see what a weird word mushroom is. Mush + room. Why? Mush I can see, but room? I’ll have to look that up.
From Wikipedia, the source of instant knowledge:
From Middle English musheron, musseron, from Anglo-Norman, from Old French mousseron, of Germanic origin: Old French mousse (“moss”) (—first applied to a type of fungus which grows in moss), from Low Frankish*mosa (“moss”) or Old Dutch mosa (“moss”), akin to Old High German mos (“moss, bog”), Old High German mios (“moss, mire”), Old English mēos (“moss”), Old English mōs (“bog, marsh”), Old Norse mosi (“moss”),
myrr (“bog, mire”), from Proto-Germanic *musą, *musô, *miuziz (“mosses, bog”), from Proto-Indo-European *meus- (“mosses, mold, mildew”). Displaced native Old English swamm (“mushroom”). More at mire. Alternatively, the Old French may be of pre-Roman origin.
Alternatively, it could be pre-Roman. After all that.
I like swamm better. Our yard is full of swamm. Swimming in swamm. Swammed. Turns out verbing has been around since the 1500s. And there I was, turning my nose up at it.
They come up whenever it rains. What else might rise up from the rain?