Drawing close

One summer when we were on a camping trip with a group of families, I found myself alone for a moment, the other kids had gone exploring somewhere. I laid on my back floating in the lake, just staring at the sky. It was blue and large, and even then I knew that this sense of peace and quiet was rare in the world.

In college we were encouraged to take a four hour quiet time/sabbath once a week, to ensure we were resting properly. One night I sat on a bench outside of Wurster and after maybe half an hour of frustration, feeling like I couldn’t pray well or clear my mind of dumb thoughts and petty worries, I prayed for God to be near to me. And as I prayed I heard over the chirping of crickets the wind begin to pick up. I felt a strange sense of expectation as my prayers for nearness to God and the movement and activity in my natural surroundings seemed to converge. It felt like eternity was approaching the door, and preparing to knock. Then my phone buzzed. I’d received a text, and the night was normal again.

I also remember multiple occasions, walking between Channing and campus on College, I would look West and glimpse the bay and the bridge in the distance, I would catch my breath at the sight of it, somehow surprised at the nearness of the water. And continue on my way.

It was perhaps the sixth or seventh day of basic training. Our platoon was marching somewhere, maybe the DFAC, maybe the classroom or back to the company area after training. We were marching in formation in the sweltering South Carolina summer heat, and I remember glancing up at the sky. That’s when I realized that it had been days since I’d seen the sky, and I remembered that there was a bigger world outside of training, that there was a bigger purpose outside of learning how to be a Soldier, and there there was life outside the walls of Fort Jackson. The clouds were in formation as well, and beautiful, and their purpose pointed higher and their song was of a different timbre.


Sometimes the place seemed to occupy her and to have its being within her, and she forgot herself.

At the end of a cloudy day in full spring the sun suddenly came out. Along the edge of the woods, the thrushes began to call. A mockingbird sang from a dead treetop nearby; a cardinal sang and a wren; in the distance a bobwhite whistled and was answered. Laura felt herself carried up into the freshened light where she seemed to have no life except that which now sang all around her. 

On a rainy winter day, just at sunset, she saw the sky divided by the leftward stroke of a rainbow, the other side hidden by trees. Within the visible arc the sky glowed with a vibrant pinkish light, while outside it night was falling.

Walking one frozen afternoon in a wooded hollow of the valley side, she realized suddenly that her own steps made the only sound in that place. She stopped. And then absolute silence came over her, absolute stillness. Every tree, the wooded slope, the world itself, stood as if in the very nothing from which it had been called out.

At such times as these she felt that the great, mute creation was trying to speak to her. This disturbed her, it moved her  almost to tears, for it seemed to intimate the nearness of some consolation—forever imminent and unreachable, almost knowable—for everything that was wrong. 

– From “A Desirable Woman”, Wendell Berry


~ by justinhong on April 25, 2015.

One Response to “Drawing close”

  1. your unprotected blog posts are such a treasure

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