Lose your mind and come to your senses.
It gets late early out there.
A mystical experience is not any more unique than a modern experiment in physics. On the other hand, it is not less sophisticated, either....The complexity and efficiency of the physicist's technical apparatus is matched, if not surpassed, by that of the mystic's consciousness....A page from a journal of modern experimental physics will be as mysterious to the uninitiated as a Tibetan mandala. Both are records of inquiries into the nature of the universe.
I stepped out my front door this early morning and started down the driveway. Head lowered in thought, time to fetch the Sunday paper in the box down by the road, when I heard the first spring song of a wood thrush in our woods. He must have come back yesterday. I notice the juncos are packing up and moving out to the North woods for the summer. I looked around and the world was transformed. There hadn't been much rain yesterday, but it was slow and steady...and enough to bring on the first real burst of new leaves. The daffodils are mostly done, tulips in full blast, and redbud coming on at its usual leisurely pace. I'm sure there's plenty more wild flower action in the forest and by the creeks. But that thrush's song lifted my spirits to a healing high.
I just had read an email from my sister, describing her early retirement from administration in local public health in our hometown. The job had become more than tedious, with constant and increasing mandates "to do more and more with less and less." It had become dangerous to one's health, life-threatening. Retirement at 59, with 32 years of service...and she listed 3 others in community and environmental health who did the same thing in a matter of months. No double-dipping for these people, they've had it. How many others who chose careers of public service, before Reagan declared government work a waste of money and Gingrich labeled its workers bureaucrats to be gotten rid of, have done the same thing over the last decade? How many thousands, tens of thousands, from the top ranks of the CIA through the military and into the social agencies? Every level of government affected by budget cuts and increased paperwork to prove accountability.
I met one the other night. His name is Rick Sahli, and he's an environmental attorney in Columbus. He was on a panel at OU discussing the Legal Dimensions of Environmental Justice. Beginning in 1983, he worked in the Ohio Attorney General's office on environmental law, and 5 years later became the Deputy Director of the Ohio EPA. On the strong foundation of a promising and socially helpful career, he watched, in 1991, the new Republican governor, George Voinovich, transform the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency into a corporate advocacy group. Voinovich may have repented somewhat by now, but back then he was just following the neocon agenda. Mr. Sahli resigned and since then has devoted his skills and service to grassroots organizers---mostly neighborhood folks being terrorized by industrial waste and toxins. http://home.columbus.rr.com/sahlilaw/
How can it be we've become a country in which people opposed to government and its services are touted as patriots? I was thinking these things before the wood thrush roused me from my doldrums. Besides, I've been suffering a bad cold that came on yesterday. I haven't been sick a day in the past year, but it seems when I catch "what's going around" these days I start getting death thoughts. I know I'm an old man now, but what happened to the kind of sickness that can be diagnosed? Each time I get something now I think this may be the Big One---the virus nobody can treat, the flu resistant to all our antibiotics. At one point yesterday I started coughing---this dry, unproductive hack---and I found myself preparing to give up the ghost. Overnight it loosened up, but then I had that drowning feeling of pneumonia. Oh well, one thing you learn is that when death comes it probably won't be so bad. You just have to let it happen.
Whittier said, "And where the shadows deepest fell, the wood thrush rang his silver bell." Ah yes, Whittier had the same thing happen. Anybody with a middle name of Greenleaf must have wandered the forest paths too. Isn't it wonderful how a bird can reach into your soul and stir your hope once more? This one got me to look around and see new life coming again. This old beautiful planet that has been so forgiving of us, that she still comes back no matter how reckless we've been. It's certainly especially true in this part of Appalachia, where we mine for coal and love our gasoline toys. And where, nevertheless, Spring is more lovely than anywhere on Earth.