Hunting for the Fire
Last week, I stepped outside just in time to see the Equinox moon rise. Full and cold white, it filled the sky not so much with its size as with its presence – bold and younger, greener somehow, than the low-hanging blood orange harvest moon of the fall. Something about it stopped me and made me glad. I could have been on an island in the South Seas, or at the top of a mountain in New Hampshire, in splendid solitude with this moon.
When I got up the next morning, the moon was still there. It had just begun to set. So I watched this moon’s remarkable and stately setting, aware of how rare a gift I had been given. It seemed as if the moon had found me. It seemed, more particularly, that I was somehow meant to mark the turn into spring this year with greater awareness of a time that was ending.
Within days I learned the Crux, the website I’ve penned reflections for going on two years was closing its virtual doors. There have been deeper rumblings within as well. I am aware of my impatience for the buds that nestle in their pale green slippers along the lilac boughs. And my restless irritation with projects I need to draw to a close. Relationships that pass for friendship but are little more than utilitarian acquaintanceships catch me in flashes of huff.
That morning, I opened the refrigerator and tossed half-empty bottles of teriaki sauce and minced ginger, partial bags of hazelnuts and languishing capers.
We reach a point where we think that most of our turnings are done with,. But in truth this is often just an excuse for staying put. To T.S. Eliot’s hauntingly beautiful lines in Ash Wednesday:
Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things…
I hear the voice of Barbara Walters, when marrying for the third time at the age of 68: “You’re never too old to fall in love.”
So, who are the suitors of a morning in spring? They arrive with little need of invitation. They are the unfinished dreams, some of them reaching back to childhood — the poet and the painter, cropped to bite-sized waifs through the years of keeping a garden, a child, a classroom, and a dog. They are the inner lilacs, pent up in hedgerows of professional propriety.
“I have baptized you with water,” John the Baptist told the crowds along the Jordan who came to hear his prophet’s intensity. “But there is one who will come and baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Isn’t this what we are waiting for? The baptism by fire? The “yes” that flushes us out of our various retirements and singes our cobwebs as we risk giving oxygen to what we’ve stored in carefully curated boxes, journals, and Starbuck’s conversations all these years? Was it fire that I felt as the moon splashed its last rays on the rising snowdrops?
Eleanor Roosevelt once said that every day, we should do something that scares us. We should risk the largeness of our dreams, not cower on the banks of familiar shores.
The first moon of spring brings a farewell to a publication daring in its own way. My suitors call.
I know the view from my windows.
It is time to discover what lives with the wild lilacs.