Suppose I scooped the whole sky in my hand, I couldn’t hold it. Yet hearing a goldfinch, I feel, well, yes, that tiny song might clench the whole primordial rumpus of the wind.
I wonder if she felt the fearful flame fly into her womb? What did she hear? Or maybe when God enters time, he’s quiet. Is the child in the manger meek so He, who fills all place, won’t scare us? After my mother’s death, I stood in darkness, bereft and tiny on an ocean pier, a spent coin. Night opened its purse and flung me up, expanding toward the stars.
For once, silence— genuine calm. Forty minutes on a tidal bight with a great blue heron in the binoculars’ sight. Not frozen but still. In a half hour, she barely turns a full 360 degrees. Time to notice the dark wingtip markings, light not-blue-but-gray breast feathers, the cobalt dash between the long beak and dark-eyed crown. Expectation gives way to awe, as each degree thins her to a reed among reeds.
By sunset, barely an apostrophe against the green marsh what’s left of color bleeding into water, this resolve: to pause to practice, to attend.
Statio. One of the elements of Benedictine spiritual discipline, the practice of pausing between activities to become conscious of the moment, of the presence of God.
Swinging a pitching wedge, my father lofts Seven golf balls over my mother’s grave. To spare the grass, he hits from the shoulder, Picking them clean from the thin lie of dirt.
It’s fifty yards, I’m guessing, to the woods Where all but one of seven disappear In yardage he can manage, length to spare, At eighty-eight, his knees beyond repair.
He limps to her grave site, his love an arc That ends among trees. The flowers he’s picked Follow him in my hands; he turns the club Upside down and uses it as a cane.
“Some day you’ll know,” my father says, meaning His knees, and then again, “Some day you’ll know,” Meaning this trip to a grave, this choosing Of flowers, orange ones I cannot name.
My father, the prophet, bends to the vase Of wilted stems. My father, who’s warned me, “You’ll see” a thousand times, lifts the fresh buds From my hands, steadies himself on my arm.
Study war no more
Mar 18, 2011
Michael Izbicki grew up in a nondenominational church in California. A National Merit Scholarship finalist, he chose to go to the U.S. Naval Academy out of a sense of duty to his country during a time of war. At the naval academy he began to doubt whether the career to which he had committed himself could be squared with the tenets of just war doctrine. He got in trouble when he responded no to this exam question: "If given the order, would you launch a missile carrying a nuclear warhead?" After a four-year legal battle, the navy discharged him as a conscientious objector. Izbicki may have to reimburse the service for part or all of his education (New York Times, February 22).