Saturday, March 31, 2007


Today I drove to Wynne, Arkansas, to return my nephews to their dad. On the way, I noticed how beautiful the green fields were. Also on the way, it started raining.

Before long, the rain was pouring torrentially. Traffic slowed on the curvy road. I learned later that what I thought was incredibly hard rain was probably actually hail. (I still need to check my roof to see if it was dented.)

Instead of noticing the green, I peered through the grey onto the black asphalt, watching the yellow and white lines carefully, as well as the red lights of the cars in front of me.

By the time we reached our destination, the rain had slowed, allowing me to deliver my passengers without anyone getting completely soaked.

But then on my way back home, the downpour began again, even more intensely than before. I drove more slowly than I had on the way over. I flashed my car lights at people who didn’t have their lights on, because the rain was so heavy they could hardly be seen.

It was amazing. In fact, as I crossed the Mississippi River, I could barely make out the city skyline. The skyscrapers were like blurry brown images against a grayish-brown background. The river was an imaginary thing, lost in the soup of grayish-brown wetness. I think I’ll always remember that image when I cross the bridge.

More amazing than the rain, though, was the green that greeted me once I got onto North Parkway. By then the rain had slowed somewhat so that visibility was no longer a problem.

And the trees and grass were so green! You know how the light is after a storm. And all this green, this cholorophyll-saturated green, pulsed with light and life.

That drive down the parkways and then down Central Avenue, filled with green, green, and more green, was like a dream. But a dream of something more real, not less real.

I could imagine that the green of heaven would be like that. So filled with life that we can see and feel the life coming through it.

It seems true that the only times you experience this kind of soul-stirring green are right before a storm, or right after one. So that without the showers, it wouldn’t happen.

I won’t make the obvious point about when in life we tend to experience the deepest sense of life and growth. Or feel the most alive, or connected, or however you experience it.

What struck me more today was that it wasn’t just the storm that caused the green. It was the light and what the water did to alter the way the light was experienced.

If there is something to be learned about my own life, I think it is that the Light is the most important factor. The storms are simply a part of reality that change the way I perceive and experience the Light.

And that’s enough of trying to make points. The main thing is just that it was incredibly beautiful, and for a while I felt more alive because of the green, green life all around me.

(This photo is from the woods behind the house where I grew up. There was no way to take a photo today during the rain! But I’ve always thought this photo had that similar intensity to it.)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I Did It!

No, I haven't been hang gliding again, and I haven't succeeding in writing another Grandmother essay.

But this may in the long run be bigger than either of those:

For the first time that I can clearly remember since about 1995-ish, I went jogging by myself. Which is a bigger deal when you realize that the only times I've jogged with someone else in the meantime are countable on one hand.

You see, in 1988, I repeatedly injured my left knee, hyperextending it in a crazy child's running-in-a-circle-with-your-arms-locked-together-with-another-person kind of game, which I was playing with a bunch of adults. It was bad enough that I was on crutches for a while, required x-rays, etc.

And each time I've tried to jog since then, that knee has wound up hurting and getting wobbly, despite wearing a knee support. For a while I was even doing the thigh exercises recommended by two MD's, but the knee still suffered beyond what I could consider healthy.

So I said goodbye to jogging/running and went on with my life, finding adrenaline in other ways. And I really missed it at times, because in junior high and high school, I was a runner both competitively and just as a way to wind down and keep my mind in balance.

Then, last year, I went jogging with a friend and discovered that if I stayed on the grass, my knee didn't hurt.

Being a heat-intolerable type of person, I wasn't about to try to continue that in the June/July/August of the year. I don't know why I didn't start in the fall. I went once with another friend in the winter, but she is such an athlete and I'm such a competitor (i.e., I won't admit that I'm dying and can't breathe and need to stop.... now!) that I nearly killed myself and was sore for days on end. And then it kept getting cold, and I was having earaches. And on and on.

I did buy a watch for running. And some other apparel. A little calendar for recording times and distances, etc. Psyching myself up even while the weather and ear didn't cooperate.

But today I did it. I'm not going to say how much, or little, I ran, because it's embarrassing.

But I did it.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, right?