Monday, April 12, 2010

an alternative to church

I intended to attend a student's first piano recital yesterday--because that's the kind of thing I like doing--so I took the morning off from church to walk the dogs and do a few errands. the walk itself felt wonderful--simply being in communion with outside and companions can feel like a holy act--and on the way home I passed the smashed fluorescent bulbs I'd mentioned friday, reminding me that I hadn't done what I said I would. I would do that before heading to the recital.

what I'd expected to take one hour and a single bag took two hours and six bags. it wasn't a mere dozen or so large bulbs but hundreds of smaller ones, some the size of pencils, that had been broken on the roadside and heaped. the piles lay inches thick over struggling grasses and worts that were a neon yellow when I uncovered them. I wore my elbow-length leather gloves and scooped the shards onto a snow shovel with a broom head. it took a lot of stooping and standing, and when I was finally finished and had hoisted the half-full bags, crunchy now with the sound of breaking glass, to the roadside, I could not drive to the cities but drank a beer on the deck and stared at the trees until I fell asleep.

it was a kind of reverse-communion, not an adding to but a removing from, that I felt a part of in bagging those shards. there will remain a trace of the chemicals and glass by the road because there was always a layer at the base of each pile so infused with dirt I couldn't remove it. but the plants can grow over it and in a month or so it'll be invisible. but the birds and the insects serenading me sounded good and the sweat on my brow felt right and if there is a shrivening effect to doing hard necessary work this qualified.

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