a rose e’er blooming

I could tell you about the single thread of spider web I saw one morning, stretched 40 yards across the Neuse River, between trees, a lucky shot on a windy day, the spider-equivalent of winning the powerball, and how, since spiders can’t see a lick, even with eight eyes, it probably never knew what a piece of spider history it had created, and probably never bragged to its buddies or posted it on Facebook, it could only remark to its neighbor that, dang, did it ever feel tired.

Or about trees, how they talk with each other underground, passing news about aphids and blights and such, and how they share food, and not just with each other, but also with fungi, how fungi hunt down and deliver up minerals that make a tree a tree, that make it strong and tall rather than some floppy four-foot weakling of a plant, and how trees, in turn, share up to 80% of their sugar with fungi, sugar fungi need to live and . . . fung.

Or about human embryos, how they develop by dividing, one cell into two, two into four, and so on, and how in one of those divisions, one thing splits (our ectoderm), and half of it becomes our nervous system and the other half becomes our skin, and that’s why the most soothing or exciting or wonderful thing in the world is to be touched.

Or about the woman who carried my wife as an embryo, my mother-in-law, how her heart is weakened and not working as it used to, how tired she gets at the end of a day, but how she rises up from tiredness and tells me a joke, and we both laugh, and there’s light in her eyes.

Or about a boy raised by abusive parents, how they locked him out of the house, even on cold nights, how he’d give up knocking on the door and tapping on their bedroom window and sleep in the truck, and how he grew up and married and treated his wife the way he was treated, horribly and mean, but how he loved his children, and how, over time, somehow, the love he felt for them infected the rest of him and changed him, and how he came to his senses, and his heart broke for his wife, and he grieved for her for three years, and he apologized a thousand times, and he learned to treat her like she matters, and he’s on the way to treating himself that way, too.

Or about an 18-year old girl in a small town in Mexico, her family’s farm ten years wrecked by NAFTA-cheap corn from the U.S., working without a future in a dollar store, a peso store, how despite her circumstances she was full of fire and fight, how she told her parents she wanted to leave, like her brother was planning – “But you can’t, you’re a girl, it’s not safe,” “But I must,” “But you can’t, you won’t,” “But I will” – and then no more arguing, no more talking, only the weary passing of week upon week, and how one day her brother told her, “Pack your things, we leave tomorrow,” and how they rode the train, and made the crossing, and how twelve years later her daughter plays violin and her son plays with Legos and she uses her fire and fight to help others make a way in the world.

Or about me, waking one night to music rising from my chest, a looping fragment of a tune, a wordless La-La-La-La descant above a song sung into my bones as a child, how it was my voice but not my voice, how my singing was accompanied by piano, banjo, and glockenspiel, how the music poured up from my heart and repeated, over and over, for how long I do not know – five minutes? 20 minutes? – and how joyful it was, and how all the next day it played in me, radiating, vibrating, and how that afternoon, running in the woods in the day’s last light, I came to a complete stop when it hit me that the words of the song include the line, “Tune my heart to sing thy grace.”

I could tell you about all these things.

Or I could just tell you this: The Beloved is ever being born among us, and there is no end to miracle and wonder.

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3 thoughts on “a rose e’er blooming

  1. Russell, you break open my heart with your stories so right, so tender, so beyond words. And I weep what I call ‘sweet tears’–that are not pain or pity or regret or any sort of sadness but just the blessed wetness that comes when something is so beautiful that its stirring must well up and break forth. Keep writing, Russ. We need what you create.

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