It’s a transition rain in the dark outside my window. It’s heavy and fragrant. The air is soft. Winter is passed and the world is mud and wet pavement. Your feet slide on the mud under the snow-tired plants. Nothing is firm. For the first time in a long while, it smells like sleeping with the window open.
With the snow mostly gone, the landscape secrets are laid bare. There’s the farmer who left a cover crop. That one didn’t. Bulldozer tracks in the new development. Freeze-thaw spires in the raw earth. Rivulets of black mud washing over the new sidewalk. Plastic bags snagged under the greenspace trees. My face is pale.
She’s the faint movement in the distant fence row, the one funny patch of dirty snow moving among the corn-stubble remnants of winter’s last stand. She’s the lone set of tracks on the lakeshore, disappearing in the fog, signatures in the soft mud that dry up and blow away. When you see her, you realize that most of the time you don’t.
You’ve driven your commute hundreds of times. You watch the season change through your windshield and listen to radio news. You drive right through most days, but she captures your attention. Your home is alive. More alive now.
You see her flash in your periphery, darting through cars. Weightless movement and irresistible grace, she lopes across the median and into the cattail wastes in the inconvenient parts of the industrial park. Your eyes want to follow but you will yourself to look away. Need to keep the car on the road. Did your eyes meet? You want to believe it.
When the blue light from your TV spills out of your window, she’s in the under-darkness, hunting among your lilacs, your Japanese yews and your burning bush. She sniffs at your foundation, at the threshold of your back door. She knows you. Your family too. She knows what you eat and when you leave for the day. She is given to you.
When you are surprised to find yourself awake in the soft pre-dawn, she is the faint laughter you hear in the open window. Animal laughter. Animate laughter. You measure the aural distance against the Doppler whine of truck tires on the distant highway but you can’t. The night is too thin. Is she on your broken and abused hill nearby? On the Easter hill beyond that? On a thousand hills. The world is still wild. She comforts you.
She’s the reason the fawns are dappled and still in the understory, why the feeder-squirrels are nervous, why the baby rabbits in your hostas don’t even blink. The blood on the snow and the pile of downy feathers is from somebody else. Your neighborhood sharp-shin most likely.
She consumes it all and leaves no trace – mostly. You find a bit of cottontail down in the grass. And if you’re lucky, a rabbit’s foot in the gray leavings when the snowbank at the end of the driveway melts. That’s how energy moves. That’s how your little world re-animates. Look for the signs. She remains with you forever.
Our North Shore theologian Zoomed in from the edge of the wilderness on Wednesday night. She told us with an eye-twinkle, that she had located the Holy Spirit shape-shifting among the world’s tricksters, drawn from the world’s memories. Moving in the borderlands mostly out of view, knowing your moves in the second before you do and playing with mischief. Here on turtle island, the Holy Spirit is a coyote. Transitive property. Q.E.D.
Put that in your Lent and contemplate it.