WEEKWORD PEOPLE: I asked FRUENSWERK to take Weekword. She has chosen CONTRAST. If you want to be part of Weekword leave a comment on her blog. Then Friday post something on your blog with CONTRAST as the subject and put in a link to Fruenswerk. She will list all the participants with links.
Nine years ago on December 29 a special young man came into the world. He now lives a few hours away so we had to wish him happy birthday by phone.
His birthday reminds me of another event that happened that day before dawn in our town. I went out for an early walk in the dark snowy streets. I could see a strange glow in the sky and, as I neared the campus, I could see a huge building was going up in flames. It had been in the process of demolition since it was old and too far gone to repair. The demo crew had fenced it off and salvaged what they could over a period of weeks. Then they began to pull it down in the middle of the night when the campus would be empty of people. They were using huge steel cables tied from the stone walls to heavy construction equipment when the friction caused sparks and the dry old wood interior caught fire. It went up like a torch.
By the time I arrived the fire was under control and the firemen were just keeping the surrounding buildings cooled off while the flames did the job of reducing the building to rubble. I came back later on my way to work and took a few pictures of the smoldering remains.
While walking home that dark morning through the silent streets I had time to think about how big events can happen during ordinary days in ordinary places and how people can sleep through or pass by moments in history and often not know what they missed. The following poem was written at a different time, but expresses some of these thoughts:
When we’re crammed inside our vehicles
Scurrying all around
Like ants on aimless errands
Our eyes upon the ground;
When we’re huddled in our houses
In our offices and halls
Studying our papers
Staring at the walls
We miss a lot of glory
Meant for all of us with eyes
In the endless awesome beauty
Of the steady silent skies.
The summer morning’s sunrise,
Winter’s northern lights
Shooting stars; and constellations
In the blackness of the nights,
The magic of the rainbow
Out of nowhere after rain
The rolling, puffing, folding clouds;
Moon’s silver wax and wane,
Singing timeless, silent music
Nothing we can hold or catch.
All we have to do is be there.
All we need to do is watch.