Spring is coming to Tennessee.
I made it home in time last night after band rehearsal to sit on an old bench in the woods behind my house and write for a spell, something that hasn’t happened for too long.
I’ve been writing on the laptop so much lately that I’ve forgotten how good it is to feel the scratch of pen on paper, the rhythm of making the forms of letters and words rather than just pounding them out on a keyboard.
Here’s what came out.
Music filled the room just an hour ago.
Five men, all bound by common purposes,
Common needs, thinking, expressing a felt
Remembrance, for a time, of the heart’s leap
That led us to commune with the Maker
By making; we became younger, older,
The moment expanding to encompass
The wider, deeper world of which we sang.
Now, after a short drive through smoke and noise,
I am sitting on a wooden bench, hushed
In the last light of the day, in silence
That fades, as I wait, into another
Kind of music: the sound of birds calling,
Brown leafless branches clicking together
When a bird leaps and flaps away to nest
Before a dark, long, and heavy silence
Takes its place over and among the woods.
Can God be known here? Here in this wild place
hemmed by highways, stitched with black powerlines,
Defying what they call “development”
And “progress” as the wet green fungus sighs
Over exposed bedrock; as bright new grass
In tufts comes out of sleep and crowds the path
I cut through the brambles? This place is mine
And it is not mine. It is mine because
My name is on the deed. It is not mine
Because a bank’s name is there beside it.
Mine because I have loved it, if only
For a year now, and yet not mine because
I did not, could not, make it, can’t keep it
Alive or kill it, because it is ancient
And it is a part of an earth that will
Outlive me as I now live. A day comes
When I too will be ancient and holy,
And this wild place, redeemed, will sing with me.
It will belong, I will belong, fully,
Joyfully, to him who set us both free.
The earth is the Lord’s, and all within it.
The resurrection and the life. Christ, whose
Mind imagined and made the ground where now
I sit, is as alive as the frogs chirping,
Welcoming the night, singing in this way
Because they were made to make this music.
The birds answer. The silence answers too:
I find myself sinking down into it,
Welcoming it, glad to have a good place
To sit, watch, listen, and to remember
My place in the world, the woods, in my home.
The sound of my eldest son’s voice calling
“Papa!” echoes through the cedars and oaks.
“Time for dinner!” I turn, and can see light,
Yellow in the warm windows, a glow that,
Set against the blue dimness of nightfall,
Makes me think of Heaven, and the best tales.