“Enter! the pavement, carpeted with leaves,
Gives back a softened echo to thy tread!
Listen! the choir is singing; all the birds,
In leafy galleries beneath the eaves,
Are singing! listen, ere the sound be fled,
And learn there may be worship with out words”.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, My Cathedral
Brighter light and lengthened days witness the trees reclothed. Thankfully, this can be appreciated- even after a long work day; shirtsleeve weather and twilight- even after seven. From my apartment’s front stoop, the view upward is one of renewal. Fresh crops of leaves are waving from the maples along sidewalk paths- so very new, these greens and maroons have a tinge of the yellow of unripeness. Even the sunlight has this aspect, gleaming with the fresh paint of an almost-season. From this top step on the grey granite, the view is enough to cause me to stop writing about other subjects. This is a fine kind of interruption. It’s the light; beyond the brightness is its effect upon strata of diaphanous outgrowth which canopies and deflects air currents. Not long ago, these same trees were glazed with ice; before that, shedding their ruddy colors. Time is the difference, and observing these changes permits for an enjoyment of rebirth. To be sure, this isn’t a retread of last May- or the one before. The front stoop is still where it’s been, and my presence continues- but it is by observance and perception that a soul can tie timelines together and be able to recognize connections unseen.
Noticing transition, I am brought to ponder time and context. Occasionally, driving my errands presents glances of things past. Noticing a window of a former home, a storefront that once housed a favored venue, or a familiar corner of a campus, subtext of place is reawakened. These locations are unchanged, yet somehow foreign. Iconic yet inconsequential. The passage of time never ceases to amaze me, being the witness that can connect disparate occasions holding given places in common. Consider how context can change a subject or person. Once an institution or person held powerful sway- then suddenly their currency became worthless. Harsh streets become neutralized by the constant flow of traffic. A grade, an honor, or a title lose their volume as they lose their context. What once loomed largely becomes laughably diminutive. Thoughts and recollections attest to the lives and stories beneath surfaces. Our unique witness can thread places and times together, observations becoming solid phrases, individual transitions measures of interior evolution.
With a deep breath of chilled air beneath stately trees, my preference remains with the present rather than past. As much as we can look back at what we've enjoyed, we can be surely reminded of what we've survived. The here-and-now becomes a wonder, a cause for gratitude; the trees stand as enduring sentries. As folios of foliage, the leaves’ pagination ascends with time. These wafting, turning pages draw attention to their source. Tilting upward to light, they live and breathe with circulatory vessels of words drawn from trunks filled with troves collected by standing through torrents and beating sun alike. Components to an entirety as letters to a tome- minutes to an eternity. New leaves meet my outstretched hands.
Beneath what is visibly new and evidently resultant of trained branches, is the unseen journey. Around the core are rings which know the years. The rich, draping greens are hints to the eternal- but not to be overlooked: imagine if we did not have these visible signs! Journeying onward is possible when there is a clear drive from within. In other words, the way ahead is through a descent through the heart. Johannes Tauler once wrote about a thriving inner life as the route heavenwards. But the unseen is often misunderstood and underestimated. Where we meet the Divine, Tauler described, is considered an emptiness to the intellect, yet a fulfillment to the heart. In that still space, God guides the soul to the foundation of being- to the substance of what is. Still space needn’t be cause for unease, even if it takes time to realize this.
Nowadays, looking to the trees causes me to wonder at the passage of time. And instead of the connotation of fall- with its closures- the growing leaves carry notes of the life within. The books that are with me flutter with the gusts. Two have printed words, one is my notebook. Wooden pencils bounce off the granite steps and muffle onto the grass. With a thirst for continuity, growing leaves and pages turn- to reveal more, offering time to write more. As with an ability to know the unseen journey, it requires faith for me to trust that my efforts will amount to something. With the cycles of time, and limits of influence, there remains hope for redemption of the locust-eaten years. It is better to aspire than to regret what may have only appeared to be missed chances. And I must remember how the appearances of places and situations do change as the road broadens. Verdant drapery will shade and later cushion the paths ahead.