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This is what joy looks like

This is what joy looks like:

It looks like walking over the lawn in that time of late winter’s striving with early spring, when afternoon and evening brush fingers in passing, throwing careless glances over shadowed shoulders, and all the wealth of the sun’s bullion lies heaped in treetops, mounted and piled among far-flung boughs like plunder, forgotten— or abandoned—in sudden flight. (Boys once sought a piece of this prize, training their darts towards all that opulence, aiming to see an arrow gilded before falling to earth once more, transfigured.)

All earth holds its breath, waiting, for that one, clear, cold note; for the ache of the thing that is surely coming; for the nativity of the world. (You have forgotten to wait for it, sitting indoors with your fingers interlaced, or kneeling to blow on bloodred coals yet smoldering upon a bed of grey ash. But now you remember, stung alive by that keen air, bearing tinctures of delicate things for all its rude handling—violets and tiny white feathers and bits of blue shell at the foot of a tree. Forgetting takes time, but remembrance is the matter of a moment.) It is then, when you have finally

opened your eyes that the miracle steals on tiptoe, lifting with smallest hands the bank of heavy cloud which has sullened and saddened the earth all day, throwing out in one radiant glance enough glory to christen the world. Thus known and named, all things sing back themselves for sheer gladness, in flashes of birdsong and music of color: Glory to thee and all thanks to thee, O Namegiver! In that light, all is canticle and verse; all is wild tumult of praise: leaping serum of veining sap and homing dove and bright cacophonous rooster’s crow!

And yet, the bird in the hedge falls silent, checked in his mad virtuosity by that strange creeping splendor decanting itself like summer wine, casting a holy blush over every living thing. It is in that moment, poised in perfection upon the very doorstep of eternity, that you catch the echo of scarce-dreamed-of desire, resonating down darkened vestibules, haunting the ventricles and chambers of your heart. For one searing instant, you prize past all equal the spangling of sun-shot tears trembling from the naked branches; the rising incense of mist is more costly than gold, and that one aureate wisp caught among the dark tresses of the pines far more precious—and then you know:

You are more alive than flesh and bone could ever hold; more vital than body and blood and thought.

You are made for more rapture than one life can contain.


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