I AM THE WATER, THE WIND THAT WRAPS THE WORLD: I AM A BAHA’I
I built a small house in the woods of Maine within the acoustic shell of gulls, owls, and the slapping of surf that signals up through the salt marsh.
I am not a biologist or botanist, or one of those environmental engineers who measure the beaches and marshes with spreadsheets and stats. I listen to the singing of birds and the yipping of foxes at night, and the rhythmic repetition of the rollers. I am the purple aster, and, at times, the mysterious fertile void of the marsh itself, the whistling and shimmering of its wrens.
Ecos, the root of the word ecology, is Greek for house. I live in a house in which the closest ant and the furthest angel are related to me. I have built on the webbed bridge between inside and outside, upside down and inside out, in that holy mid-air that flows among all of us.
The air, like the Holy Spirit, surrounds me, holds me. My breathing exemplifies the synchronicity of all that is alive, both human and non-human. I live in a holy house by merely breathing.
That position is at the end of the world, at the terminus of a difficult path in, on the coasts of the human heart, between the juncture of present and past, between Indian and European, between sea and land, and among peoples and religions which otherwise ignorantly contend. That site is between life and death, between you and me, between the personal soul and the abstract cosmos, in the here and now.
And although the red maple and white birch each stand in their respective solitudes here, and the sick man and the violent man and the praying man live elsewhere and seemingly independent of me, they exist in relationship to me. It all converges at my waist, and in my deepest breaths in and out.
To the extent that my soul comes to contain the seemingly contradictory and otherwise divergent elements of creation, then I can be sure that my soul is American in a deep indigenous sense. My house lies precisely there, here. My identity is local but I walk cosmic beaches.
For every fern and bulrush and goldenrod and glossy ibis in the marsh, or crab, mussel, or clam in the near-by Kennebec River, there are stand-alone nations and peoples and religions, all surrounded by air and the Holy Spirit. I am the water, the wind that wraps the world. I am a Baha’i.
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