Out the southern window, eleven Canadian Geese sliced silently through the sky in a straight dark line. But it only looks straight. It’s curved like the earth, curved like all who dwell herein. An orange school bus glides along the distant road, carrying tired values and outdated ideas back and forth while unruly children bounce on the cracked leather seats. I’ve ridden that bus all my life. The back window rattles loose and I occasionally escape, but I don’t get far.
To mark the path home, I’ve rolled large stones into a curved line, and stacked smaller ones on the rounded tops, held in place by gravity, spit, and Zen. When the wind howls through the valley, some of them tumble off. These are local river rocks, but I drag stones home from wherever I go. Alleys, beaches, roadways, mountains, even other continents.
Decades ago, I rescued a collection of agates that had been buried by debris in the back yard of an old Forest Service office. I imagined the collector, likely now dead, watching from beyond. I wash them occasionally, and put them in new buckets, but at some point, I’ll do something more fitting, more spectacular with them. They seem content to wait. If anything can grasp the term geologic time, it would be rocks. When I was a child, I thought trees lived forever. Now I know they don’t, and I’m glad. I’m warmed by their cast-off bodies, sheltered by their harvested limbs.
And rocks don’t last forever either. But their comparative longevity is comforting.
And what’s forever, anyway? The little God on my shoulder—the one that ordained this moment–whispers something in my ear. “It’s music. Or another name for winter.”
Ah. I see. Listen to me all you fireflies and buffalo, nymphs and gnomes, wind and sun, seeds and stones. This is the gospel for today: Trees don’t live forever. Rocks don’t last forever. Bus rides eventually end. The earth is a circle moving in circles, creating the cradle, smoothing the grave. And that is how it should be. Amen.