A Shabbas Table: Recovering Wonder

Well, if it isnt already painfully obvious, i'm longing for the coolness of the change of seasons. Shabbat with a bear? Christmas in August? Well sure... on this blog, hehe.

Anyway i've been thinking alot about hot and cold, sun and moon. Earlier in the week we had a full lunar eclipse and i stayed up for it, just glued, it was so amazing. I'm definitely a 'moon person' and it hit me just how much i missed it, being out on the patio moongazing. Its not really set up for it here, but maybe when i move.

Its not that i dont love the sun, i do. I love the soft golden warmth in the sky, and the fire of the hearth as well, cherish it. And i love the sunrise and sunset, they are truly miraculous and you can feel it. But i'm no fan of harsh sun, or brilliant blinding bright...the kind of weather most folks love so much. Sun instead needs to be tempered with me....give me a sun beautifully softened by mist or rain anyday, or a warm sun upon cool snow. I need that balance. I love this qoute of Emily of New Moon (my favorite of Montgomery's books), from

She watched the funeral procession as it wound up the long, grassy
hill, through the light grey rain that was beginning to fall.
Emily was glad it was raining; many a time she had heard Ellen
Greene say that happy was the corpse the rain fell on; and it was
easier to see Father go away in that soft, kind, grey mist than
through sparkling, laughing sunshine.

Mistiness feels so soft, kind, softening the edges. It feels to have the softness and wonder of mystery, which i love. Back to Emily of New Moon, who understood the wonder of mystery so well:

She put the faded blue hood on over her long,
heavy braid of glossy, jet-black hair, and smiled chummily at her
reflection in the little greenish glass. The smile began at the
corners of her lips and spread over her face in a slow, subtle,
very wonderful way, as Douglas Starr often thought. It was her
dead mother's smile--the thing that had caught and held him long
ago when he had first seen Juliet Murray. It seemed to be Emily's
only physical inheritance from her mother. In all else, he
thought, she was like the Starrs--in her large, purplish-grey eyes
with their very long lashes and black brows, in her high, white
forehead--too high for beauty--in the delicate modelling of her
pale oval face and sensitive mouth, in the little ears that were
pointed just a wee bit to show that she was kin to tribes of

"I'm going for a walk with the Wind Woman, dear," said Emily. "I
wish I could take you, too. Do you EVER get out of that room, I
wonder. The Wind Woman is going to be out in the fields to-night.
She is tall and misty, with thin, grey, silky clothes blowing all
about her--and wings like a bat's--only you can see through them--
and shining eyes like stars looking through her long, loose hair.
She can fly--but to-night she will walk with me all over the
fields. She's a GREAT friend of mine--the Wind Woman is. I've
known her ever since I was six. We're OLD, OLD friends--but not
quite so old as you and I, little Emily-in-the-glass. We've been
friends ALWAYS, haven't we?"

With a blown kiss to little Emily-in-the-glass, Emily-out-of-the-
glass was off.

The Wind Woman was waiting for her outside--ruffling the little
spears of striped grass that were sticking up stiffly in the bed
under the sitting-room window--tossing the big boughs of Adam-and-
Eve--whispering among the misty green branches of the birches--
teasing the "Rooster Pine" behind the house--it really did look
like an enormous, ridiculous rooster, with a huge, bunchy tail and
a head thrown back to crow.

It was so long since Emily had been out for a walk that she was
half crazy with the joy of it. The winter had been so stormy and
the snow so deep that she was never allowed out; April had been a
month of rain and wind; so on this May evening she felt like a
released prisoner. Where should she go? Down the brook--or over
the fields to the spruce barrens? Emily chose the latter.

She loved the spruce barrens, away at the further end of the long,
sloping pasture. That was a place where magic was made. She came
more fully into her fairy birthright there than in any other place.
Nobody who saw Emily skimming over the bare field would have envied
her. She was little and pale and poorly clad; sometimes she
shivered in her thin jacket; yet a queen might have gladly given a
crown for her visions--her dreams of wonder. The brown, frosted
grasses under her feet were velvet piles. The old mossy, gnarled
half-dead spruce-tree, under which she paused for a moment to look
up into the sky, was a marble column in a palace of the gods; the
far dusky hills were the ramparts of a city of wonder. And for
companions she had all the fairies of the country-side--for she
could believe in them here--the fairies of the white clover and
satin catkins, the little green folk of the grass, the elves of the
young fir-trees, sprites of wind and wild fern and thistledown.
Anything might happen there--everything might come true.

And the barrens were such a splendid place in which to play hide
and seek with the Wind Woman. She was so very REAL there; if you
could just spring quickly enough around a little cluster of
spruces--only you never could--you would SEE her as well as feel
her and hear her. There she was--that WAS the sweep of her grey
cloak--no, she was laughing up in the very top of the taller trees--
and the chase was on again--till, all at once, it seemed as if the
Wind Woman were gone--and the evening was bathed in a wonderful
silence--and there was a sudden rift in the curdled clouds
westward, and a lovely, pale, pinky-green lake of sky with a new
moon in it.

Emily stood and looked at it with clasped hands and her little
black head upturned. She must go home and write down a description
of it in the yellow account-book, where the last thing written had
been, "Mike's Biography." It would hurt her with its beauty until
she wrote it down. Then she would read it to Father. She must not
forget how the tips of the trees on the hill came out like fine
black lace across the edge of the pinky-green sky.

And then, for one glorious, supreme moment, came "the flash."

Emily called it that, although she felt that the name didn't
exactly describe it. It couldn't be described--not even to Father,
who always seemed a little puzzled by it. Emily never spoke of it
to any one else.

It had always seemed to Emily, ever since she could remember, that
she was very, very near to a world of wonderful beauty. Between it
and herself hung only a thin curtain; she could never draw the
curtain aside--but sometimes, just for a moment, a wind fluttered
it and then it was as if she caught a glimpse of the enchanting
realm beyond--only a glimpse--and heard a note of unearthly music.

This moment came rarely--went swiftly, leaving her breathless with
the inexpressible delight of it. She could never recall it--never
summon it--never pretend it; but the wonder of it stayed with her
for days. It never came twice with the same thing. To-night the
dark boughs against that far-off sky had given it. It had come
with a high, wild note of wind in the night, with a shadow wave
over a ripe field, with a greybird lighting on her window-sill in a
storm, with the singing of "Holy, holy, holy" in church, with a
glimpse of the kitchen fire when she had come home on a dark autumn
night, with the spirit-like blue of ice palms on a twilit pane,
with a felicitous new word when she was writing down a "description"
of something. And always when the flash came to her Emily felt that
life was a wonderful, mysterious thing of persistent beauty.

She scuttled back to the house in the hollow, through the gathering
twilight, all agog to get home and write down her "description"
before the memory picture of what she had seen grew a little
blurred. She knew just how she would begin it--the sentence seemed
to shape itself in her mind: "The hill called to me and something
in me called back to it."

And from here, after she has learned her father has little time left to live..

"I wish you--could take me right through the door with you,"
whispered Emily.

"After a little while you won't wish that. You have yet to learn
how kind time is. And life has something for you--I feel it. Go
forward to meet it fearlessly, dear. I know you don't feel like
that just now--but you will remember my words by and by."

"I feel just now," said Emily, who couldn't bear to hide anything
from Father, "that I don't like God any more."

Douglas Starr laughed--the laugh Emily liked best. It was such a
dear laugh--she caught her breath over the dearness of it. She
felt his arms tightening round her.

"Yes, you do, honey. You can't help liking God. He is Love
itself, you know. You mustn't mix Him up with Ellen Greene's God,
of course."

Emily didn't know exactly what Father meant. But all at once she
found that she wasn't afraid any longer--and the bitterness had
gone out of her sorrow, and the unbearable pain out of her heart.
She felt as if love was all about her and around her, breathed out
from some great, invisible, hovering Tenderness. One couldn't be
afraid or bitter where love was--and love was everywhere. Father
was going through the door--no, he was going to lift a curtain--she
liked THAT thought better, because a curtain wasn't as hard and
fast as a door--and he would slip into that world of which the
flash had given her glimpses. He would be there in its beauty--
never very far away from her. She could bear anything if she could
only feel that Father wasn't very far away from her--just beyond
that wavering curtain.

And that's what Shabbat does too in a sense, pulls back that precious misty curtain, giving us a taste of the deeper sacredness behind it all, a sacredness we hug close to us so we can carry it all week. To paraphrase Emily, We can bear anything if we can only feel that Our Father isn't very far away from us--just beyond that wavering curtain...

Good Shabbas, and Blessed Sabbath : )

(Image is from
Adrienne S├ęgur's 'Misha, the Little Brown Bear')

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