A Tree with Lights In It

^ On the path during my morning walk

Lately when I’ve been out on a walk I’ve been trying to turn off my podcast once I reach the woods.  We have some wooded trails near our house and whenever I’m walking there, I feel the urge to quiet everything else and just walk.  I don’t always do it.  Sometimes the podcast is just too good!  But I’m working on it.

I read this in the second chapter of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard this morning.  It reminded me why it’s a good idea to pull out the earbuds and be fully there while I’m walking.  I really do see so much more of my surroundings when I’m not simultaneously listening to Rob Bell or Steve Almond or Jenna Wortham, as great as all their podcasts are.

Here Dillard is talking about how she searched for years for a “tree with lights in it” that she had heard described by a once-blind girl who now could see…

Then one day I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with lights in it.  I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame…

… It was less like seeing than being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance.  The flood of fire abated, but I’m still spending the power.  Gradually the lights went out of the cedar, the colors died, the cells unflamed and disappeared.  I was still ringing.  I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.

I have since only very rarely seen the tree with the lights in it.  The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, for the moment when the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam.

Have a good weekend, all.  Hope you catch a glimpse of a tree with lights in it, if only for a second.