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December 19, 2004

Prelude (p. 1-3)

A Whispering Through the Branches
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Shall we open with the trees? Would that we all could branch outward from such serenity. To be so well centered. To be so balanced by our roots! O to have the faith in the ground on which we stand to dig as deeply inward as we reach out grasping toward the heavens! And to have such little care concerning those with whom we mix our leaves in our aspirations! The sweetly dominating Maple linking arms with the stout Oak and the molting Birch; and the Pines, all yearning to shed their innocent coats, as their cousins have, and show their naked wrinkles to the world.

Yes, let's open with the trees, because the Spring looms lustily over every field. Let us take shelter under those arms as they are slowly renewed with each bursting bud until the sky is but a memory to the ground. Let us lie upon the carpeting of leaves and needles, patterned by the wind. We will create our own patterns, each of us pushing our own imprint into the soft comfort — deeper and deeper, and deeper still, until the wind, jealous of our forms, blows to dust all of our endeavors.

But for now we spread ourselves atop our plots, and the wind can do no more than caress us. So will we open, each with a tree at the head, and breathe our bodies up through the branches. Let us close our eyes to sleep and sleep until these new leaves turn old and weigh on us as memories and sleep until the weight of those fallen leaves presses us deep into the ground and sleep as the wind scatters the memories and sleep with a tree at each of our heads and sleep.

And listen for the one song we've yet to hear.

Past the birds with their endless chatter. We have heard every tune they have to offer. Do not separate them now. Take them all as one gliding wave of a lullaby and the breathing silence of one as filled by the hum of another. Taken as a drone they are easy to ignore. Listen past their eternal chirp and past the panting pounded out in unison by their wings.

Below the bitter old brook, grumbling her journey from high beginnings to the low swirl of the anonymous ocean. Hers is a melancholy ballad: bubbling and weeping as she drags herself over the stones. With the return of her heaven-banished children, falling into her bosom as rain, her bed will not contain her lament, and she will lash out, ripping trees from their uneasy stance at her side. But our ground is removed enough that we need no longer fear the flood. And sad soft songs are the most lulling of all.

Listen. What is this new noise that blends its cries with her mumblings? Why, those are human whimpers. Shh, shh, quiet. Let us listen closely. Here is a sound of depth. A sweeping rhythm of echoes. Are those tears that we hear dropping carelessly into the stream? Yes, yes, and then a sigh. O what a sigh! A call to arms, that sigh. What power in that thrusting of air! An endless source of sorrow. So much have they to regret, and it is all there in that one sigh. We can hear in that sigh the cries of every child left uncoddled and cold. In that sigh the broken dreams of countless ages, each alike in nothing but their differences. Each sadly aware of how little they matter. And yet so many asking for aid. An exasperated sigh. A sigh begged for and cherished by every injustice. A sigher spread too thinly in her attempt to cover so many in her warm embrace. Here is your champion all ye humbled poor! Curled up by the water's edge, here is one who dashes her tears upon the stones for all of ye pariahs. But wait, she speaks:

"Who will save me?"

A cry for help? For what could such a savior need assistance? For what such desperate phrasing? Perhaps we were mistaken. No, perhaps we were correct before we started speaking, and there is no hope for the downcast. Perhaps there are none truly worth saving, anyway.

But such lovely tones of sorrow we cannot resist. Come, have we not been wooed by this voice? Come, can we deny the seduction of so heart-torn an aria? Let us all rise up and offer consolation. Come now, come.

Ah, but we are too slow to our purpose. We are beaten to it: another approaches. Well then, we will postpone our slumbers and watch for a while. Perchance to pick up the pieces. Perchance a chance for one last souvenir.

Posted by Justin Katz at December 19, 2004 12:01 AM
A Whispering Through the Branches