Now I walk in beauty
It was a cold, rainy April day - the Friday before Easter. I could feel my feet itching to see something new and glorious. I had thought my heart quite broken - but no, it seemed with Spring's arrival, and the sudden burst of color back into life, I was healing.
On went the black jacket over my green blouse. On went the familiar black boots that had taken me so many places. Up went the umbrella. Out my feet went, crossing the threshold of my world, treading paths familiar. Black and green - death and new life - so ironically like how I felt.
My feet carried me off the pavement and towards the wet grass. Familiar refrains of music whispered through my mind as I walked, nothing more than lines, nothing persistent enough to sing. Over the field where I had started on my journey to find a Little Bit of White I walked, until I came to a place that would offer me either heartache or heartbreak.
On my last journey, my steps had been to the left, leading me to the discovery of great anguish. To the right was private property. Before me was an unfamiliar tangle of trees, green and brown, coated with raindrops.
Familiar, or unknown? It came down to my courage. Could I face the anguish of my private haven in its current state? Could I face the mystery of the unknown? Could I be so rude as to trespass on private property? Such small decisions on the walk of life - left, to what was not mine, right, to my own familiar heartbreak, or ahead, to whatever end?
I closed my umbrella, tucked it under my arm, and ducked beneath the low hanging branches of the tree that blocked the unwalked road ahead. A sense of serenity, unexpected, and almost foreign in days of anxiety and stress, seemed to waft through the air and surround me, almost like a ghostly mist, perhaps. I found myself smiling, pleased at my surroundings and my events for the first time in weeks.
The rain brought out the best features of spring. The subdued gray palette of the sky brought forth the colors more vividly - the green of leaves, the gray of bark, the rich brown of wet soil. The rain too helped - attention was given each leaf, each tiny blue star in the grass, the purity of the white and the shyness of the pink dogwood blossom. The color seemed inviting against the gray sky - the warmth of life against the cold of winter's last chill.
My steps took me over fallen branch and growing grass. It was pleasantly unfamiliar, yet had just enough familiarity to bring me the sensation of belonging. Step by step I furthered myself from the pain of the bright pink ribbons to my left, signaling the end of a construction zone. With every breath I became more and more in tune with my surroundings, farther and farther away from the insane rush of time that defined my world.
There was a quivering in the grass. A gray squirrel wandered to and fro. I was not unfamiliar with the kind - they darted and dashed to and fro wherever they pleased - I saw them often enough walking, whatever season. Yet somehow I was fascinated. What could cause this comfort loving creature to leave its home and wander across the wet grass?
Could it, like myself, bore of comfort and convenience and long for something new? Did it perhaps long for the serenity a timelessly young forest brings? Was it too in search of something, no matter how small, to brighten a dull day and to color a dull portrait of life?
A tiny white kernel in the grass seized our attention at the same time. This squirrel took this choice morsel and began to nibble with almost human like devotion to an ear of corn. It occurred to me how oddly alike this little squirrel and I were - he, in wandering, found a single kernel of sustenance among thousands of treasures, and took it with him, finding nourishment from something so small, yet so powerful. I too, in wandering, had found my kernel, a sustenance of peace and prosperity I had not known I'd longed for.
The squirrel and I parted ways without words. My heart was full. As I turned my steps back towards a round-about return, I realized how much I needed this peace, this serenity, this break from the daily grind of human life, and a step towards something entirely other.
Is this what Tolkien had found in his writing? Was it something that Lothlórien and Rivendell held for him? In the memory of what he saw, did he find the same sense of peace that I was taking with me - something so sacred as to be heaven sent? Is that serenity what draws us all to Middle-earth, again, and again, and again - longing to reach out and touch the peace that Tolkien found in God?
My umbrella went up as I entered the field again. My steps whispered rhythmically in the wet grass. Then they clicked softly on the pavement. There were deer on a hill behind me, distant yet close, far enough that it seemed almost to suggest the past, the closing of things. I found myself desiring a new kind of adventure, a new kind of excitement. I was resolved to go and find it - indeed, perhaps try something new, something unexpected, perhaps that would surprise me ...
I would paint beauty.
Almost unbidden a song rose to my lips, from my heart, and I sang. The song carried me to the steps of my house, within, and towards, I fancied, the adventure that Bilbo had found after his quest - a quiet house and hearth, an open book, and the memory of all the giving beauty, given, but never returned, unless it be in the recording of memory on blank pages.
Now I walk in beauty - beauty is before me, beauty is behind me - above and below me.