Cathblog - The Slather

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Here, I’ll prove to you that there are no tiny moments, no dull moments, no little things, only a general failure on our parts to see the wild and amazing slather of miracles that come unbidden and will, for each of us, too soon end, all too soon. But not yet.                    

Yesterday I was idling in the social ramble, in a rare splurge of sunshine here in the Pacific North Wet – a burst of light so startling that people emerged dewy from their mossy holes and mooed in delight and held crucifixes and talismans aloft in praise and fear – and I noticed a child, age one and change, crawling free in the ocean of the grass; she was remotely attended by her father, who kept one eye on the scuttle of his daughter, rotating that eye exactly like a lizard does; but otherwise she ranged loose in the swell of the lawn, and I grew interested in her voyage, and watched with interest as her skin grew greener and her clothes soaked with dew; but there was one moment when the heavens opened not from above, as usual, but from the chambers of my heart, the doors of which are sometimes rusted shut for any number of reasons, all of them reasonable and all of them foolish, in the end; and of that moment I alone am here to tell thee.

She paused in her jaunt and journey, this small ship of a child, and scrabbled in the moist, and hauled forth a caterpillar with a coat of many colors, and hoisted it into view – her eyes still so fresh from the amazement factory that you could almost see the warrantee tag – and she exclaimed with delight, and then she ate the caterpillar ever so gently, placing it in the holy cave of her mouth with reverence, and closing her tiny lips with honest pleasure, and savoring the interior wriggle of her guest; and then she pursed the tiny bud of her lips as if for a kiss, and the caterpillar was extruded, or ejected, or escaped, or was essentially whistled back into the ocean of the grass, into which he or she vanished with an alacrity I had never noticed in caterpillars before, which may be characteristic of that species, or which may have been a reaction of this one caterpillar to what we must call unimaginable circumstances, it being unlikely that caterpillars are versed in the legend of Jonah and the whale, despite the story appearing not only in the Bible but in the Qur’an, long may it wave.

A small girl, a caterpillar, a young crew-cut father who soon thereafter scooped up his progeny, and cradled her in the crook and burl of his arm, and that was inarguably that, and the day trundled on apace.

But there was a child, whom no science can fully explain, for there never was a being like her in billions of years before she arrived, nor will there be such a being again, no matter how long the worlds do spin in the measureless void; and there was a caterpillar, so brilliantly hued and crammed with incipient flight that we can only gape and wonder that such a creature liveth in the profligate world we share; and there was a sea of gleaming grass so rife with life that a herd of mathematicians would age and wither before that sum was calculated; and there was a young dad, with a sensory apparatus so remarkable that he knew exactly how many inches his daughter was from his harbor, and exactly the instant she should be retrieved and dried and given to suck; and there was a slight grizzled man with a glass of excellent wine, watching the gift of all this, a man so amazed and astounded and moved that he had to put down his goblet and retire to the men’s room to brim with joy that such things are in this world, and are given to us to see and savor; so it is that we are blessed beyond measure, which you know and I know; but we cannot, I think, be reminded enough.

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, Oregon, USA. His most recent book os Grace Notes, a collection of spiritual essays.

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