Dawn comes early in the summer but by the time the sunlight hits the tops of the trees outside my patio, day has already arrived, bringing with it a cool delta breeze and the murmur of a distant train heading southward, its wail rolling across the bluing sky. The beginnings and endings of days are made for pause and reflection, or even better, a waiting emptiness marked with peace.
The cat slips in and out and over the decorative fence and begins her morning round of inspection, smelling the bumpers of parked cars, the bush where last night she captured the gray-green lizard, the steps where noisy neighbors haul up paper bags of groceries and beer. She looks over her shoulder at me, then slips behind the flowering agapanthus, only to appear a few seconds later at the corner of the walk, once again looking to see if I am looking too; and our eyes meet.
These eyes I look through see into this dimension I have, in concert with others, created. I carry the vague recollection of last night’s dreams, the ache in my calf where the cramp bit so unexpectedly, my scent lingering in the warm bed covers. I awake to a grey day and speculate if the sky’s sad countenance is due to the summer fires to the south where last winter’s grass now stands high and dry and asking to go to ash.
As I sit I give thanks to Life for staying with this body another day, offering another chance to drink deep of its bounty. Now that I am 72 I have a clearer perspective of death’s inevitable arrival. I now understand that 80 years is a decent span, not one that requires more and more extension. The fingers of both hands can count out that remaining allotment of time and I ask myself if there is anything more I need to do, to see, to experience, and I answer that time has now become Grace.
If I had to do over this life, or better if/when I have another chance to do again, what choices would I make different in direction than the ones I made here and now, and I must respond I would have liked more time in nature, living beside wild trees and free streams and open skies; to have known the names of berries, the species of birds and their preferences; to have seen the great flocks migrating and heard the thunder rolling over the prairies.
Perhaps in the next life I shall come back as an animal and experience once again the beauty of the physical, leaving behind the torment that accompanies too much thinking and planning and fearing. How would it feel to be in the body of a deer, a crane, a bobcat, a wren singing in a bush at daybreak? How does life look seeing out of amber eyes?