Today is the feast of the Annunciation. One of those gems of the low-church calendar, a sung communion: at 8 a.m., acapella voices rise together in the little chapel before the startling white—a sudden change from yesterday’s startling red—of the altar.
Afterwards, at the Starbucks down the alley from church, I feasted (as one ought) on a venti Earl Grey (well-endowed with a sufficiently celebratory quantity of half-and-half), and an apple bran muffin.
I love a quiet spot in a busy place: all the bustle of humanity going on around me, while I nestle in a little pool of silence. The groups gathering, one by one, around outdoor tables—that coterie of friends lapping up the thick bar of shade on the patio, while others bask in the sun; the puppy, big-footed and oblivious, no great discriminator of sidewalk trash (leaves, he learns, are acceptable to chew on; cigarettes are not), tangling all possible chairs and limbs in his leash. The middle-aged woman, sitting quietly at one of the outlying tables, taking notes on the Bible in her lap; the guy with the Hawaiian shorts and casual cigarette, slouching unconcernedly over his cell phone and iced coffee at the ‘bar seating’ along the railing. The little girl, sparkle-shoed and stripe-shirted, shepherded along with some difficulty (she likes the dog) by her mother. The young man in sunglasses, a little bounce in his stride, sauntering out with two or three caramel frappucinos in a cardboard holder: a Monday celebration (ridiculous, and lovely) of sugar, and whipped cream, and not much coffee at all. (Who cares?)
Across the street–behind the furniture store which (to my delight) advertises many unusual quiddities on its alleyside brick wall–bright green leaves flutter in the breeze, sporting freely in the bird-woven world between city and sky. Spring has crept into creation. Leaves and flowers, bursting from wood and earth (little universes long perplexed by the shape and color growing within them), discover their true dimension, and are glad. New life shoots through nature, uncontrollable, as fierce and sudden as blood, and fire; red, and white; passion, and innocence.
(Bread on the altar, waiting in the darkness to be made Christ for us. And there we kneel, hands outstretched—what other posture is there?—to receive our God. Be it unto me O Lord according to thy word. Feed on Him in thy heart by faith: till the Eucharist sprouts in our veins, and we are changed. Someday we, too, will burst from this bark of space and time, and laugh as we spring from earthbound exile to the free air of our homing: the atmosphere of infinite grace.)
Stillness. In all this glorious hum and flutter of existence, I am struck by stillness. For nothing moves, unless there is somewhere (at the heart of all things): peace. The stillness of the earth, of gravity–so that the blackbirds may curve, elegantly, against that perpetual attraction. The stillness of the branch, shooting all its leaves into a shimmer of whisper-winded song. The stillness of Christ, around which our days (and all time) dance to their ending.
Earl Grey tea gone, sun still sparkling over the gentle hubbub of the city, I meander home again—resisting the urge to leap out of my car at a stoplight, and caper about in the street with one of those brilliantly orange traffic cones (splendidly adorned with reflectors) on my head. So many prayers and spring leaves later, I almost sense—for an instant—why David danced before his God.
Greetings, favored one: the Lord is with you.
God with us. The fabric of all our joy. The rhythm of all our dancing. The meaning of green, and red, and white, and the world.
Springtime in our souls.