Monday, April 5, 2010
that one moment
I have carried this memory around with me forever it seems; sometimes it is a small yellow stone heated by a warm fire and other times I look at it with mild suspicion.I am five years old and my mother is hanging the wash on a clothesline in the the back yard.I have just finished my cheese sandwich and I run out of the kitchen on my small legs.I want permission to go out to the front yard and beyond that to play.My excitement knows no bounds.It is a lovely spring day.The apple tree is awash in blossoms that fall like snowflakes when the breeze stirs.
My mother is in a house dress,those drab,cheap dresses that women wore before shorts and pants liberated our sex.Her hair is brown and permed and she turns as she hears me running up behind her. As she turns, she starts to smile in a way that can only be described as beatific and she says,"Sure and have fun",with a love that I cannot describe.As I turn to leave, I am floating above the ground,my shoes grazing the tops of the dandelions,my heart swelling.
I found this experience described in a book by Fae Malania ,"The Quantity of a Hazelnut", when she recalls an encounter with her great grandmother at a screened door on a blistering hot day in Southern Illinois.She was two at the time and kept what happened to her in her heart for all her years.She says.." I remember her presence, and a deep still happiness to be in her presence....so there was nothing else to do but look at her and grow in the warmth of her sun." Yes, that is it !
For many years, I inspected this moment;I turned it upside down and battered it with logic.The reason,I thought, that I remembered it so vividly is because it was so unusual.The usual was much less warming as my mother's unhappiness grew and she became a different person.The daughter who has taken child psychology classes,told me that a child's first memory is of the thing that is different ,unique.I suppose I was right in my judgement.And yet,the fact that I remember it 60 years later may be because it was perfect.
I have read that in order to have a belief in the transcendent ,a person must have experienced a numinous moment.There in the small grassy yard, in the shadow of the lilacs, I was smiled on by the Almighty.Cynicism is not a good fit for me in this Easter season when daffodils shout out yellow praise and birds call to their loves .So, I hold the warm stone to my heart as a gift and a promise of things to come.