In the last days of this year’s August, the world’s energetic disposition became stronger. Some would even say stranger.
For me, it became clearer. I mean a personal, scintillating clarity. I am becoming someone other than my working title, “Massage Therapist.”
This kind of personal clarity works startlingly well at my age when so often my eyes want to glass over at the repetitive conversation, the total lack of discourse.
I walked the “up” route one day. I had my dictation unit with me & I recorded my thoughts as I walked. I was lost in the new-minted daylight that moved all around me in a dance of its own making. I made a left where I usually make a right, hardly believing I was taking on another hill, this one in town.
As I reached the crest, I recorded, “A poem is like a communion wafer, moments on the tongue, drenched in Divinity that needs to be told.” This portentous but predictive thought trailed off as I reached the top of the hill. Standing to just the other side was a slender man in a long robe. He stood with his hands behind his back, looking at our Union Church (built 1892) with the fiscal help of our [then] local madam. (It was not to occur to me until I reached home that this was Sunday morning.)
Sometimes here on the backroads of New Mexico, a pilgrim will pass through town. One rainswept day, I saw a man pulling a red, white & blue crucifix with a wheel mounted on the bottom, head down, striding along the shoulder of Highway 152. In the roads near Chimayo, it is not uncommon to see bare-chested men flogging their backs with whips. Or men with thick knee pads “kneeling” their way along the road to the small miracle Church.
In the moment of starting downhill, finding & turning off my recorder, focusing on this man’s profile, I lost all rational thought. I took him to be a holy man passing through, leaning over a wrought iron fence to study an old Episcopal Church. When he turned to face me, I realized in a rush: “he’s dressed in the vestments of a priest.”
He walked forward to greet me, hand outstretched, a mild face overtaken by glasses. He remarked how nice it was that the weather had cooled & he was comfortable in the ceremonial layers. He mentioned he comes up to Hillsboro on Sunday to say mass at the old church. I admired his dedication as the only way to achieve a goal. We discussed what volunteers bring to lives. I lifted my index finger mysteriously & played him the poem just recited. He asked if I wrote it (a common question tho one would think too obvious to be anything but a conversational gambit.) I nodded, smiled, as free & open in conversation & aspect as I have ever felt in my life.
There was somehow a purity in this introduction, a sharing of what is divine to each of us.
As parishioners came up the hill, I impulsively grabbed the hand so recently shaken & kissed the back of it before saying goodbye & walking on.