I wake early and dress, take the reusable bag from the corner of the kitchen, turn the flowers in the vase and wonder if we can go one more day without buying new ones.
This time of day, I set out as the parents are bringing their children to school--red tartan jumpers and bulky coats too warm for these autumn days, whispering prophetic of the coming winter. They part and weave around me as they laugh and I side step here and near-miss there, making eye contact and smile with the parents as they pass, looking a little worn already with the chill in the air and the busy cross street to navigate.
I cut off the main road and down onto the walking path, take it low this morning and keep by the stream. I'm hastening, aware that I've left a bit later than I intended, and I still have to make it across town. Breath comes a bit heavy, pace increases, and I feel the old protest in my feet--the left ankle I turned this summer, the right only two days ago.
Back ways, side streets, I spill out in front of the church with a few minutes to spare. Things silenced, collected, placed in the bag and it placed in one of the pews. A bow toward the great altar, whip steps to the side chapel. Seat taken, sign of the cross made, Eucharist observed, partaken, and in thirty minutes I'm spill back into the street, unsure that I have felt anything, that this sign of grace has truly taken.
It's three blocks to Taste, a small double latte and croissant for takeaway. Flecks of impossibly perfect pastry soil my front as I walk, savoring the delight of the best I've had since France. A duck in to the chemist, across to the homeopathic, down two for the deli, around the block for the butcher--he greets me by name, asks what I'm in for, wonders if I would like to see what he's just cut. I do, of course, and I buy without consideration.--and then down one block more to the green grocer. There are brussels sprouts today; figs. There is promise to try and get some kale, but I good-naturedly doubt the possibility of success.
Across the street, another turn, and I am headed back toward my flat. I take the high path on the way, checking my watch and wondering if there's still time to write before I have to get on with the day. But I slow, at some point, and take a seat on one of the benches, which faces the most ordinary swatch of green. I sit. I contemplate nothingness, the nothingness I felt when I went to church, the nothingness I felt when the butcher greeted me by name, and I wonder if this is not the sign of something, if this feeling of nothingness is a warning.
Until I realize, this is a feeling of peace.
I'm not sure I have ever quite known that feeling. I have spent so much of my life in a sort of panic that to finally arrive at a feeling of absolution, of living in a beautiful and good state, alarms me as a sign that something must be wrong.
But the swatch of green swaying, slow and resolute, speaks to me of that tree of Psalm 1, of that thing planted by the water, to bear its fruit in its season, and I think this season must be my own time.
I had an email last week, and a few over this summer, from younger--if I am even of an age where it's fair to say that--bloggers asking what they should do to be successful. These emails always include a phrase that alarms me: like you.
I have never known how to answer, I have never known how to not reply by writing all that I have just written and then taking on the addendum: but what you couldn't see is that there are 78 emails in my inbox that must be answered today, not to mention the others waiting to be answered tomorrow; you can't see the six guest posts I should have written a month ago; you can't see how behind I am on my reading for class tomorrow; you can't see that I find it ridiculously hard to pray, that sometimes I feel that I'm talking to a different God depending on what time of day it is; you can't see that I swear when I shouldn't and I battle common sins with little triumph; you can see that I couldn't get the picture to rotate on this post entry so I just threw up my hands and published anyway; you can't see that I spent part of this morning on the phone with financial aid asking that they would please give me money from my loans so I can pay rent next week.
There is something about transparency in blogging that I find impossible.
No matter how much I try to convey that I do not, in fact, have my collective crap together, people seem to believe that I do. Because I cook things from Pinterest and the butcher knows my name, because I go to daily Eucharist and because I tell you of red tartan jumpers, there is a perception that I have somehow arrived.
But I haven't.
I feel old but I don't feel very wise.
I love that line. I wish I could wear it sometimes. I wish I could rub it into the dirt of me.
I wish I could take you into my kitchen, sit you down, pour you coffee or wine, offer you a slice of something, and tell you all the ways I am not put together today as I rise early, walk brisk, cross myself, observe, receive. I wish you could know that I'm slugging it out right beside you, that should you need me I'll come running, that this season of peacefulness terrifies as much as it elates me, and I think in this it makes you and I the same.