This morning just before sunrise I looked out of the back window of the house where the crabapple tree arches over the house. My attention was riveted on a single crabapple and how it hung by a thin stem onto the sleeping tree. How it stayed there by a tiny thread. It moved me. “Why?” I asked myself.
I then traced the line of connection from the crabapple, down the twig, the small branch, the large branch, the trunk, and into the roots. The answer came that I was moved because of the connection, the absence of separation between the crabapple and the roots. I felt this connection in myself, in my heart.
When I resolve to hold onto this connectedness, this oneness, I have the strength of my own heart and I can live my life from the heart. I can bear the pain that comes my way without projecting it out onto the “other,” in order to avoid feeling it.
There are places inside me where the soothing balm of rest has never penetrated. I long for a small respite from the reaching, a moment of sweet stillness, quiet darkness, the great silence that can penetrate and loosen the small, hard knots of endless trying. I want to be willing and able to move only as fast as I am capable of moving while still remaining connected to the impulse to move from deep within, stopping when I have lost that slender thread of desire and having the courage and faith to wait, in stillness, until I find it again.
It is hard to have hope. It is harder as you grow old, for hope must not depend on feeling good and there’s the dream of loneliness at absolute midnight. You also have withdrawn belief in the present reality of the future, which surely will surprise us, and hope is harder when it cannot come by prediction anymore than by wishing. But stop dithering. The young ask the old to hope. What will you tell them? Tell them at least what you say to yourself.
Because we have not made our lives to fit our places, the forests are ruined, the fields, eroded, the streams polluted, the mountains, overturned. Hope then to belong to your place by your own knowledge of what it is that no other place is, and by your caring for it, as you care for no other place, this knowledge cannot be taken from you by power or by wealth. It will stop your ears to the powerful when they ask for your faith, and to the wealthy when they ask for your land and your work. Be still and listen to the voices that belong to the stream banks and the trees and the open fields.
Find your hope, then, on the ground under your feet. Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground underfoot. The world is no better than its places. Its places at last are no better than their people while their people continue in them. When the people make dark the light within them, the world darkens.