After writing and reflecting a little this morning in the freshness of daybreak, I began to feel brisk in a way the heat and humidity doesn't normally encourage. It poured rain for hours last night, so the city seemed cool and scrubbed clean and dewy outside my windows. I brushed my teeth and stepped out into the morning. Fresh it was indeed! Got in Mini and brushed a sheet of water from the windshield. Drove to the freeway, which was already bustling at 5:30. Got downtown and made my way to my leasing office to drop off my rent check. It gets easier by the day to navigate these streets. Lovely to drive though downtown as the city was just waking.
I feel a fondness for New Haven today. It’s so odd – as I get installed here I am already picturing the day I’ll depart. It seems to be going to fast already, even before I’ve started. What a rich gift this is to be here. Yale. I can’t believe my great good fortune.
I drove about two miles past my apartment to go check out East Rock Park. I’ve heard it’s a nice place to run and I wanted to enjoy the cool morning. I turned off the road and parked near a sloping lawn with trees. I knew there was a lookout point somewhere on top of a big hill in the park and started walking toward the summit, no idea how far it was. Took only my car key and my iPhone.
As soon as I rounded the corner, not 50 feet from my car, I found myself in a thick, wet wood. The noise from the traffic totally disappeared, as if these trees canopied a sacred place that wouldn’t tolerate the irreverence of noise pollution. I was totally alone. I walked on and the trees thickened further, the air grew wetter and cooler and the ground began to crawl with fat, pink earth worms and pale green slugs. At once the sun shot out at me from behind some trees, its beams vibrant in the moist air. The air within my verdant cathedral began to warm and move at the touch of the sunlight, disrupting the leaves ever-slightly enough that they spilled the rainwater that had pooled upon them during the night’s rain. Although the sky was cloudless, the forest ran with the patter of heavy rainfall from thousands of leaves, the large drops occasionally hitting my bare arms, face, and chest.
I climbed higher and turned a corner and hit a wall of mist – I could have been in the jungle. The worms and slugs grew thicker on the ground and were difficult to avoid. The thicker air seemed to grip the sunlight, turning it into a million brilliant yellow bars shooting at me from the east. The light danced and played upon every molecule of water vapor and appeared as solid as rods of gold. So true. As the road continued to wind upward around what was turning into a mountain, I felt I could have been in the Himalayas, the Pacific Northwest, the Sierras, the Amazon, the Artic, China, Fiji – the landscape was so utterly alive with plants, insects, water, light, air. This dome of growth had its own climate and atmosphere, it seemed.
I turned off the black asphalt onto a trail. My footsteps were hushed by a bed of soft auburn leaves that cradled every footfall. I walked through spiderwebs that confirmed I was making the day’s first tracks here. My joy was immeasurable as I marched through this enchanted dawn, and my imagination took flight. Climbing upward, I thought back to a few encounters I had at the end of the summer where I was brought to contemplate the meaning of Christ as the Word. The Word made flesh. What a holy mystery that is. “Word” is so rational, and yet so artistic and abstract, too. I am interested lately to think of the way the poetry of scripture is the best way we have to make God real. We do not know who or what He is, but we do long for and love the one who will “Maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” Ahh, why does that strike us so deeply? Look at these images from the 23rd Psalm - can we ever hear them enough?
“He will maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Lord, we do not understand you, but we know these images all describe something for which we ache.
I soon broke free of the forest and found Connecticut spread out before me to the south and west. I finished the climb on muddy trails and greeted the sea at the summit. What joy to behold my new home all at once.