god's grandeur

Yesterday was the year's first rough-legged hawk above Columbus Hillside Preserve. Its wings were thicker, stouter and smaller compared to the red-tailed hawk soaring into the wind above it some distance. It had flown no less than three months to get here, its wintering grounds. Both birds reefed on the breaking wind, modulating postures as if living heiratic ciphers of some lost language as the west desert bellowed out its contents in advance of a particularly sharp low pressure system. To the south east, a foreboding darkening nimbus of sky gathered around the Wasatch. Virga limned the sky to the north over Antelope Island, smeared white, as if skywide hammers were held aloft over the earth, held in abeyance by who knows what mercy, or, for that matter, psychopathic force. 

The president is in town today and, after the snow last night, I'm going up to look at birds again while he signs away monument protections less than half a mile away at the State Capital Building. It is not really the president who must be resisted, I think. That seems to be the first lesson. I must resist mindlessness. Unflinching participation in systems whose teleologies all lead to the same cul-de-sac - our mutually assured destruction. But how? How do I keep mindful when public lands that I love more than anything, that matter to our survival more than anything are to be gutted? My mind restlessly wanders over anxious places, what to do, how to be, where to go, with whom to align? I leave my body and flit nervously in the sepia hedges of my own design. But there is no peace there. There is not heart out of light in the blasted garden. There's just suffering. Solutions that I cling to that still have not worked. 

And I realize as I put together my pack and stuff it with my two identification books, my small black notebook and pen, some water, and binoculars that this is resistance. To pay attention. I try to learn the names of the flying things and the grounded things and go out to greet them as often as possible. While the president can take away protections of sacred lands, of public lands, this is not "winning", it occurs to me. There is, I realize suddenly and lately, no winning. There is only the paying attention and the struggle of living or there is the mindless participation in it, or there is the actively trying to harm. So, I'll go on trying to protect what's left, and failing mostly, and understanding that this asynchronous way of living - of carrying on while knowing simultaneously that there isn't any point because I won't be able to actually change the downward slide of this civilization - is against all reason, a joyous way of living. I'm briefly filled with joy and the light not of my own memory but of this present moment in a snow covered fold with darkness just there, at the bottom of the hill. Both fold into each. Each is each. Light and Dark. Inside and Outside. I laugh as I remind myself that. Just one being. Just one world and then, ah, then the folding of wings for the last time and....

 

"And for all this, nature is never spent; 

    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; 

And though the last lights off the black West went 

    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs — 

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent 

    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings."    G.M. Hopkins "God's Grandeur" 1877

 

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