A few nights ago, the temperature was down in the single digits. This is Tennessee. And a Tennessee boy like myself might see a temperature that low in his backyard only a few times in life. The hour was late. I was very tired. I had finished a couple house chores. The last of which was to empty the compost bucket. I put my shoes and coat on and stepped onto the frozen grass at the edge of the patio. My backyard is nearly an acre; the compost pit is in the far back corner.
That kind of cold air is colder in the dark. And it is hard to move. It is hard to breathe. The coldness and stiffness of the air seems to slow every motion. It is a struggle with stillness.
I reached the back of the backyard. I upended the bucket of scraps and heard the slop fall in the frozen pit. Sounds like water splashed over stones. Really, it sound like vomit over cold pavement, but anyway. Walking back, I stopped to look at a large hut built in warmer days. I had put some tarps over the top to protect it from the winter weather. On the lower corner of one tarp, I could see in the dark where some water froze dripping. Not just icicles mind you but a strange organic shape of frozen spilling water. On touching the tarp, there were several areas of frozen water on the top. In this cold, there is no place that moisture has not become still. There is no flow, no movement but the dry sharp wind.
I have felt this dryness at many levels these passed weeks. A stillness. A lack of inertia.
There is a unmoving waiting stillness in the world. It is hard to name and identify these feelings. The media and politics are more locked into stillness than ever. Indeed, no movement comes from
out elected leaders. They seem mostly motivated to resist movement at all costs.
After the public, random tragedies of the past years, I feel the whole world is waiting to see what will happen next. Where will a new horrible act will be executed and who will it effect.The Superbowl? The Olympics? The grocery store near my home?
As the globe moves slowly closer to a tipping point, the Earth’s children wait on the edge unable to see the consequences. Old choices are converging in our time. The compounded interest of greed, industry and exploitation are meeting in the extremes of our planet. The result is unexpected, unplanned for and unfathomable. Diseases, cancers and illness born from pollution. Resources once thought inexhaustible are disappearing in a generation. From meddling with systems that we do not understand.
We are constantly given changing circumstances. Change is the nature of the living. We live in times now when once predictable models are off course. The weather is unpredictable and every new pattern signals endless paths of possible futures. People are completely unpredictable, capable of horrific acts of violence and incredible levels of compassion. Diseases are acting in ways that far outpace research and planning.
In the unprecedented nature of everyday, I ask constantly ….what does this mean, what could this mean? For the very foundations of possibility seem to shift until the improbable becomes the probable and the unlooked-for becomes reality.
So, we wait. I gazed upon the cold frozen water on my hut, meditating on stillness until the bite of the cold brought me out of it and I hustled back to my warm home. What will break loose once this time of stillness and waiting is over. When the rivers start moving swiftly again, what will be mixed in the run-off?
I remain optimistic but fearful of the thaw. Sometimes the truth is a warm comfortable refuge. And the truth of change is that it will happen and no one knows how or when. For these days, I will warm myself by my fireplace and keep the fire burning hot.
Thanks for reading.