Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Winter's Light

Lichen Rosette and Oak Leaves, Lost Cove 
The world is rich, wonderful and complex. I was able to experience this over the weekend.  First, by visiting the woods surrounding Sewanee, TN. David and I had just finished reading a wonderful book The Forest Unseen by David Haskell, which focuses on one square meter of old growth forest on The Mountain; so our pleasure was heightened. (Please see my November 12th posting, The Efficient Complexity of Nature.) Our hike was on a newly acquired (by The University of the South) parcel of land. Most of the leaves were down with the exception of the beech tree leaves which clung on in a rustic, rustle-y fashion.  We walked over the well leafed forest floor through the gray woods and took in the blue distance of Lost Cove.  Later on, walking along a fire lane, young green pine trees added another layer. Approaching the winter solstice, the light was clear and exacting, throwing well-defined shadows even on the bed of leaves.

All Saints Chapel adorned in greenery
         Later on that afternoon, we attended the Lessons and Carols service at All Saints Chapel. Walking across the quadrant to the chapel, a low sun glittered through the trees generously gracing the landscape to the west. It was a tonalist's vision!  This year, the music also seemed to celebrate the rich layers of life as the selection ran a gamut of ancient chant to newly composed work featuring a sliding scale of pitch intervals. The chapel was festooned with traditional winter greens and red carnations. There were layers of light as well, with candlelight reminding us of the enveloping dark of winter.

        The next morning we departed before daylight to drive back to Lexington.  I was able to look back and see the rosy light begin to develop; The Mountain a soft and eternal presence.  What joy to witness a new coming of the light! As the day progressed, the subtle beauty of winter shown.  I remembered how much I like these colors and their invitation to reflect.

         Sunday evening, at St. Peter's Episcopal, Paris, we held an Advent Evensong and reception for our Advent Art Exhibit.  This year's theme, conceived by our Rector, Rev. Chris Brannock-Wanter was summed up in the word "Relate."  Dr. Ann Kingsolver was our homilist and Sue Massek enriched our thoughts with her voice and banjo. As Ann Kingsolver spoke, I felt lightning bolts of new understanding. Her ideas of how humans relate reminded me very much of David Haskell's detailing of the complex interconnections of nature; there is more than meets the casual eye! This at once makes things more complicated and more simple for us humans.  We don't have to invent artificial systems to help our fellow beings.  Instead, we open our senses ("Listen for the light!") and see the possibilities of our role in the wonderfully rich complexity of life!

The light returns again