Snatched, and Achingly Beautiful

It’s a bright midday ride into town today and the silent pressure of a million things to do squawks and seeks to ensnare me from my phone, backpack, purse, from all the pockets and totes I carry both physically and mentally on this day, and at this time, of year. The dog’s been walked, a pile of laundry got tossed into washer then into dryer; two phone calls got made and no, the dishes didn’t get done (again). “Snatched” seems the theme at this week’s end. I’m snatching moments both to cram things in and take things out and try to get a breath along the way. Even worse, I’m finding instead of making a moment for reflection, or taking a pause to appreciate, I’m snatching at the deep and at gratitude.

This week a life was snatched by a cause yet unknown on our campus, and our nation continues to see others’ lives and our own trust and goodwill snatched. Perhaps that is too kind a phrase: are we experiencing grand theft of good and reasonable assumptions? And what, I wonder, are we to do?

I arrange my commuter pass to be inspected as the train leaves my home station, and I glance, if not snatch, a view out onto the tidal river. “It is achingly beautiful,” I think to myself. I take in the view, let it soak over and into me, and race for my computer to tell you about it.

There’s not one special thing going on out there: no wild birds, no boats, no raucous weather. No color, even, save the greys and tans and crusty browns of life slowed down for a time of rest. So what is arresting here? The silence? The normalcy? Perhaps the peace?

And that leads me straight to thoughts of that wonderful book entitled Peace Like a River[i]. Various copies inhabit our house: used bookstore finds, hardbacks, the paperback copy given me by a dear friend. One of our family jokes is that it took me three years to read this book because when the man was on his horse near the shed a good two thirds in, I froze and couldn’t go on: I was afraid of what would happen to him and to the others, and probably to the horse as well. But when I decided to go on (I almost wrote “to be brave,” but I’m not sure we decide to be brave as to go on and do), well, if you’ve read it, you know where we end.

Now the city is well in view and my tasks won’t wait anymore. So I wish you Peace, like a river, a lasting peace despite much what we now see, and a peace so achingly beautiful it can’t help but drill into your soul.

[i] Enger, Leif. Peace Like a River. New York: Grove/Atlantic Inc, 2001.

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