Sunday, June 28, 2009


Last week one day I was driving home from Burlington on Plains Road and watched a hawk land on one of the roadside light standards. It reminded me of the nearby Hendry Valley portion of the Royal Botanical Gardens, and that I hadn't been there for some time. That same afternoon I set out to the mouth of Grindstone Creek without any specific purpose.

I don't know if it was because the valley was thick with early summer growth of reeds and grasses, the combinations of heat and cool and light and shade, the sudden absence of human and mechanical interaction. I felt a growing awareness of all my surroundings and a wondrous sense of union. Let me explain.

Especially in natural settings I get a feeling of belonging, that the place and time I share with other life (and even non-life such as rock and water and air) is good, is as the Creator meant it to be. I love that feeling and take time to enjoy when it happens. But this was more. And because it was so much more, I have had to spend some time sorting this out in my head, trying to find common language to express the unusual.

Let me try to put it this way. Rather than feeling I belonged in, I felt I was.

Laugh if you must. For the merest instant I was terrified: my being didn't stop at my skin. I was the grasses and sedges around me, the water and frogs at my feet, the trees and calling birds above me. Light flowed like water, no a little more viscous like a pure light oil. The fear didn't last; it was instantly replaced by an intense joy that blocked my usual rational scrutiny.

If anyone had observed me, they might have judged me mad. I know I talked to the trees and the water. I spoke with the birds. For some time I was part of the divine that is all.

The experience is no longer fresh; I don't know if it changed me. This I do know. I have a better understanding of Francis of Assisi, the Spanish mystics, even Vincent Van Gogh. Several poets.

I felt the need to re-read poets like John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and even Allen Ginsberg's "Footnote to Howl."

It made me contemplate (again) the reason I write poetry: to instill and share the holiness of everything I see and feel, to show the miraculous in the commonplace. When I receive a comment that shows perhaps I succeeded, I feel that same joy and hope there are more who have been touched in some way by my words.

1 comment:

annaken said...

I love your latest blog, Jefferson. It speaks to me. I am glad that you are speaking now about personal experiences. Having a great love of nature myself and its profound effect on me, I can relate totally to what you are writing here. Writing is my great joy and many a time, I have come back from the water side singing with happiness, dancing with joy, one with God's great universe. This was one of your best blogs, in my opinion.