…the Mole felt a great Awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head, and rooted his feet to the ground. It was no panic terror–indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy–but it was an awe that smote and held him and, without seeing, he knew it could only mean that some august Presence was very, very near. All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.
…Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing…
~Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
It is as true for me as it is for Mole in Grahame’s wonderful story: I must stray from my comfortable little home to look and wonder at the world around and above me. Spring drives me forth with awe and longing and discontent more than any season: the light is so different and compelling, the clouds dramatic and ever-changing, the greens never more vivid, the smell of the air perfumed and enticing.
What seems so plain, so ordinary at other times of year, becomes magical and beautiful in the spring;
…maybe, just maybe, so do I.
For some reason we like to see days pass,
even though most of us claim we don’t want to reach our last one for a long time.
We examine each day before us with barely a glance and say,
no, this isn’t one I’ve been looking for,
and wait in a bored sort of way for the next, when we are convinced,
our lives will start for real.
Meanwhile, this day is going by perfectly well-adjusted, as some days are,
with the right amounts of sunlight and shade,
and a light breeze scented with a perfume made from the mixture of fallen apples,
corn stubble, dry oak leaves, and the faint odor of last night’s meandering skunk.
~Tom Hennen from “The Life of a Day”
I am ashamed to admit I squander time shamelessly,
waiting for that particular day I always hoped for,
tossing off these mundane but precious hours
as somehow not measuring up or special enough.
The shock is:
there have been over thirty years
of such days on this farm,
one passing by after another,
emerging fresh each morning from the duff and stuff of life,
and every single one has ended up being exactly what I’m looking for.
Some say you’re lucky
If nothing shatters it.
But then you wouldn’t
Understand poems or songs.
You’d never know
Beauty comes from loss.
It’s deep inside every person:
A tear tinier
Than a pearl or thorn.
It’s one of the places
Where the beloved is born.
~Gregory Orr from Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved
We all want happy endings.
But “happily ever after” doesn’t happen
without the shattered hopes and dreams,
broken hearts and painful beginnings and middles.
What we owe to ourselves and our children
is to learn how to forge through sadness,
plow through sorrow
in order to fertilize and grow beauty,
right there in the middle of ugly.
If we aren’t the farmer,
the guardian of beauty,
Beloved and blessed
A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.
I remember well the feeling of restlessness, having an itch that couldn’t be reached, feeling too rooted and uneasy staying in one place for long, especially if that place was my hometown. I knew I must be destined for greater things, grander plans and extraordinary destinations. There exists in most human beings an inborn compulsion to wander far beyond one’s own threshold, venturing out into unfamiliar and sometimes hostile surroundings simply because one can. It is the prerogative of the young to explore, loosen anchor and pull up stakes and simply go. Most cannot articulate why but simply feel something akin to a siren call.
And so at twenty I heard and I went, considerably aging my parents in the process and not much caring that I did. To their credit, they never told me no, never questioned my judgement, and never inflicted guilt when I returned home after the adventure went sour.
I had gone on a personal quest to the other side of the world and had come home empty. But home itself was not empty nor had it ever been and has not been since.
There is a Dorothy-esque feeling in returning home from a land of wonders and horrors, to realize there is no place like home. There was no way to know until I went away, searching, then coming home empty-handed, to understand home was right inside my heart the whole time. There was no leaving after all, not really.
So I’m here to stay–there is no greater, grander or more extraordinary than right here. Even when I board a plane for a far off place, I know I’ll be back as this is where the search ends and the lost found.
My head now rests easy on the pillow.
Support for the Barnstorming Blog
Your financial support keeps this blog a daily offering
and ad-free. A one-time contribution helps greatly.