My Parents, a Forest, Some Clues

William - Scottsdale, Arizona
Entered on July 1, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

I BELIEVE THAT MY SEASON APPROACHES and with it arrive my best prospects for redemption. I refer to September; both as the ninth month of the year and as the stage of Life, the ripeness of being that precedes the bitter cold. I refer to the September I was born in and those sweet, sad days that invite surrender to Melancholy’s caress.

I have come to this belief only now, at fifty. It came to me in increments by way of three separate and eclectic experiences. The first came while I was away at college, that blissful period when my future was undiminishable by doubt or skepticism, and a writing pad stuck out of my back pocket that I might recognize and record rare insights and essences. I had indulged myself the title of minor poet, and one night, in artsy environs and under the spell of mutual recognition, I shared scribblings with a fellow bard. I twice read his short offering and immediately knew him to be authentic–a seer-wordsmith. Today, I remember only the last two lines: “. . .we die, the young inherit/ all those fallen clues.”

I have spent the interim of my life in a semi-distracted state, watchful for clues.

The second experience was much less an evening’s event than a long and clarifying indoctrination. Having stood before and basked beneath the steadfast and consistent example of my parents’ Love: my father’s dutiful expression of it and my mother’s more impetuous and joyful version, I accepted the of Love as a constant–as a bridge across the chasm of change. Thornton Wilder wrote of such a bridge. But in their example I got a glimpse of the only God that ever made sense to me. The God that had been once, Everything, but was also then completely undefined and universally lonely. The God that then ceded a significant portion of Godliness over to emptiness and in a cataclysm of selflessness dispersed to become Love instead, a perfect contrast to the void.

I think people should capitalize the word Love.

Finally last year, my watchfulness still acute, I stood rapt amid the splendorous display of the Northern Wisconsin forest in late September. A host of trees in selfless unison flung their branches high and wide to place the leaves in full view. The chilling winds would soon arrive yet the leaves were at their most brilliant. Within days they might lose their hold and fall, yet the message of each and of all was unmistakable: shine: They shone despite the shrinking sun and the chilling wind.

They shone like Love across the void.

The violets of sumac shone like the straining hearts of first loves. The leaves of oaks shone as small shields forged from the bronze of duty. The maple seemed to warm the day itself with their fiery reds of joy. The birch were as golden as charity while the firs barely shaded their rich green hue as an example of hope undying. And yet all but hope would drift down, settling to the ground like clues upon the young. . .

It’s only July, but restlessly now I watch the sky for the first shortened arc of the zenith, and test the evening air for a sudden chill.

My season approaches and with it arrive my best prospects for redemption, my chance to shine.