by John Holliger
I enter the midnight darkness and drive… down into dips of mist, hints that when I arrive, the mist will cover the wetlands, the lowest place.
I arrive and all is ebony black. By the dim light of an open car door, I set up everything on the tripod, and tap my foot forward to the edge where the grass sinks into water.
Stepping back I plant the tripod as I would a tree in the ground. I am ready in the black darkness to welcome the first sliver of light at the clear horizon. Maybe the first light is more humble and illumines the foothills of clouds with a subtle blue glow.
With many layers of clothing I wait in the blackest darkness.
The wind this night is full of testosterone. Beyond my sight this wind could be moving mountains and foothills of clouds over my tiny presence. This wind might be the forerunner of clear skies. All is hidden for now.
I imagine the wind coming from the four medieval faces on the old maps, with puffed up cheeks and circled, directing mouths.
The four winds could be clearing the skies of mountainous shapes, could have planed a brilliant day of sun. I don’t know, in the darkness, the intent of these swirling intangibles.
To my surprise the first deep blues appear at a clear horizon.
Soon little clouds scurry across the indigo above like young lambs who look up, and then around, only to see their clan is miles away. Left behind the little clouds scamper as their feet send chunks of grass trailing behind.
There are several strays, racing to catch up with their flock.
The flying lambs have my rapt attention as my thumb rhythmically trips the shutter cable. My hand moves in arcs and ovals like an orchestral conductor, lost in the music the musicians are creating before her.
My shoulders and head lean back to follow one and then the next lilting lamb’s dance across the indigo sky.
The four winds find it inconceivable to bend and swirl in the same way, even once… unimaginable, unthinkable.
They call out, “Keep everything hoppin!’” A long sustained curve, a quick dip, a swooping dive, a sudden jolt straight up… “Call in the middle linebacker,” they call out next. The dance is always different, unique, restlessly creative, endlessly imaginative.
I look beneath the flying lambs and see how much joy the winds are bringing the waters. Impossible to resist, laughable for the waters to “stand their ground.” They join the wild dance of the four winds, shake out their tightly pinned hair until a chaos of waters toss a thousand sparkles of light at once, and then again, and every time uniquely new from the last.
I realize everyone is in this together. It’s a grand conspiracy to appear chaotic, when in truth we all are One, a Wholeness infinitely bigger than I can imagine with my tiny brain.
I stand at the edge of this wildlife sanctuary, a designated sacred place. I know from the first time I held my hands over what had just been blessed. An aura of Mystery and Otherness so emanated from the bread and wine, I could not move. The Otherness of the bread and wine was so palpable; I dared not touch the holy food to feed the hungry who were waiting. I looked up and words, hundreds of years old, came forth: Behold what you are, become what you see.
I stand at the edge of this wildlife sanctuary, this place from which the aura of a Sacred Otherness emanates. I cannot move.
I do not notice the cars behind me racing to work, missing the aura of this Sacred Place, one of the remnants, a designated sanctuary where holy food is waiting for us.
I only become aware of the cars when I turn around and unthinkingly begin to cross the road.
Jumping back with a start, I wonder… What has become of us?
The clouds scampering above and the dance of the waters below are languishing from the lingering toxins of speeding cars, killing this remnant of the Sacred Otherness that used to cover the Earth.
What will become of us?