Last weekend I flew to Vancouver for Jolene’s wedding. This act of travel, of going to this other home of mine, was good for me. When you fly west, you end up chasing the light, and we landed around sunset. The skies were clearer than I thought they would be, for all the dumping cold grey the Pacific Northwest has been having, and a smile bloomed involuntarily from my gut when I saw the city’s glittering, twisting self rising to meet me. I split my time between looking toward land, and watching the faces of others who were watching it as well—still and childlike, lit by the reflection of the sun. I would’ve cried if I hadn’t been so busy with the watching.
This is my 300th entry, and I think that after more than a decade of this blog and thousands upon thousands of words I may finally be in a place (emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, semantically) to tell you what the dang thing is actually about—it’s about the things that are more than they seem, which make joy and surety and gratitude rise strong and indisputable out of nearly nothing.
The day before I left I finished All the King’s Men with my AP Lit kids and told them that I had cried at the last chapter, that I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d found so moving but that I’d thought—oh, I’d thought—that it was Jack finally calling Willie his friend. And on the plane I watched Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, which was sweet and fun and not notably profound except that when the Dior dresses came out on those models, and the little London house-cleaner gasped over the beauty of them and imagined which she would buy, I thought, “Yes, yes, yes,” and scooted as far forward as my seatbelt would let me. And now back home I’m teaching The Sun Also Rises, which I haven’t read since college, when I remember finishing it right before class one day at a crowded cafeteria table of strangers during the lunch rush, my nose tipped into the book, and every muscle in my chest taut because I could tell something was happening to Jake Barnes, something big. He was being brave.
This blog is about those things, the small, thorny, glistening gifts of this world, of art, of nature, of circumstance. Things that can be buried, unnoticed for a long old time, but then they’re brought out in some new way, and it’s like that song of Andrew Peterson’s: “When the joy that you feel leaves a terrible ache in your bones, that’s the voice of Jesus, calling you back home.”
So now I’m reminding myself (and maybe you) to look always for the land that’s been lying fallow, to roll up my sleeves and, with gentle assurance, to turn over that soil, to unearth Hopkins’ “dearest freshness deep down things” which have been waiting there, their faces ready to reflect the light.