Archive for April, 2013

There is an agonizing sweetness when I slip into the place between the worlds. When I look out the window at the street and the houses, and it could be fifty or a hundred years ago. The birds I hear as I lie awake in the early dawn could be singing in another time or place. I could have been alive for 150 years. And I feel outside of time, as if I could pass between the years at will. I don’t know whether this sweet agony is a yearning for the past, for something lost… or the sorrow of knowing I must, soon, snap back to the realities of the present moment… or whether it is, ultimately, a yearning for heaven, where all that is lost will be restored, when all nostalgia and longing will be abated because all will be as perfectly beautiful as the most long-cherished memory of childhood’s clearest summer day.

I say the agony is sweet because I want to follow to the mysterious somewhere to which it leads, like the child lured away in the poem by Yeats, “with a fairy hand in hand, for the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.” But my obligations in this life call me back… There is a pull toward dwelling forever in that twilight place where the past– the past of my youth and the more distant past of my ancestors– calls me to linger there. Or maybe it isn’t the past; but then, where is it?

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight…

woman in garden

And I wonder, If I just let myself keep going… going… shaking off the impatient tug of the present urging me to return, then, where would I…?

But the painful truth is, that to reach heaven, where this sweetness will last forever in an eternal present, when there will be no painful tearing away, there is no choice but to return to this life, to this time, no choice but to endure it. The only way out is through. And that is so painful, for the way is long and I am a stranger in a strange land where no stone under my foot speaks to me, no field or meadow knows my name, and even the trees sigh a foreign language.


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