Out of the West

Out of the West

I have just returned from a walk in the old forest. Trudging along the edge of a river, tramping a familiar path, I thought how easy it is to believe, at times, that blind movements of nature and history do not heed our suffering, at all.

It was early evening, and the sky shimmered in the west with a molten fire that is the heart's own heat. Beautiful, improbable, the land, a living thing, bristling with trees, the circulation of the river racing with snowmelt in late winter. Lovely and rare, the land, as when the tyrant kings who ruled our ancestors fought one another for its possession.

That was a long time ago, when superstition reigned, in pagan times, before the age of reason, before the secular enlightenment, prior to the rise of science, in a time when the middle classes had not yet been conceived.

Many of the warlords of that time were little more than masters of thieves, highwaymen and worse. There were other and better persons, of course, and the more learned among them won out in the end. In this they were aided by the wise of those dark, anarchic times—druids gifted with sight, poets who, in a cloak of words to weave their will, enchained the action of those who would otherwise know no fear at all, not to speak of the fear of God.

At the heart of all history, in the clarity of our collective dream, there are a few familial themes, a variety of archetypes and representative visions. Among these there is a figure from childhood and legend—a sword, in a stone.

A sword is a terrible thing, an instrument of power, yet a magical thing, a surgeon's healing blade imbued with light. A stone is a common, seemingly inert form, a land or people, an intellectual thing.

To wield the sword of an angel king, one must become one in the stone.

Movement without effort, action without exertionthis is the principle whereupon creation turns, as when, in spring, the sun returns, in its inexorable round revolving, brimming life with the simplicity and unerring gentleness and power that elemental things have, animating the green fusion force that drives the flower and splits the rock.

Our sphere resonates with life, echoes and re-echoes in ascending orders of light unto the One in whom we have our meaning. Soon, the fields will awaken with a life that is now only asleep and dreaming. Then the streams will be quietly singing, meadows and fields humming with grain, bending toward summer. The rains will return, and with them other spirits, hovering above the hill, falling and rising, silvering the air between earth and sky.

I stood alone in a field at nightfall, remembering my history, caught between earth and a clear winter sky. A host of stars arose from the trees like birds, and I thought, summoning fire from quickening life: this is my life, our life, the place of our life.

Out of the West