“HOW COULD YOU HAVE MISSED THAT?”
When I get up to the Pearly Gates, if that indeed might be where I’m headed, I will walk briskly (with a sinner’s confidence) to the Saintly vision of Peter, my arms extended in my fresh unearthly joy, and the Saint, who will know me, rising, flushed of face (and seriously annoyed) will, in exasperation, ask:
“How could you have missed THAT?”
I will be stopped in my tracks.
“The other day…with your friend… I heard you, and I find you did not know. You did not know? We pointed!” he will continue.
“We placed you in front of it, we moved you there, we poked and prodded! Why, we even cast sunbeams and danced moonbeams on it. ” Saint Peter turns for corroboration, hands spread wide palms up for emphasis to a cherub at his side–who nods emphatically, excitedly– “We had you live beside them. See them daily. Sleep by them nightly. We had you feed the horses there, right where they were, miles of them!”. He will stop just short of shouting: “In a line!”
“And here again just this brief while ago, bringing you into a new place to live so you could look down your hill into your valley below and see all the beauty, all the color…..HOW can you have missed that!”
All this inspired by one of my last conversations, being told by an observant girl whose young heart swells at the sight of the woody places, streams and trees….
“I love the Sycamore for that,” she’d said to me, “you can always trace a river or streams hidden in a forest by the Sycamores growing alongside it. Look down there, see? Now the leaves all orange and gold; you will find the river at its roots, you will always find water….beside the Sycamore.”
It was mid December, we’d had two frosts, we’d passed the shortest day.
Honestly I was shocked. With these truths Saint Peter addressed to me, that everything at heaven’s command had been done to put me in the path of woodland habits, and it had all indeed overwhelmed me, an emotional feast I’d never finish, and sure I’d seen every particle…. yet I had missed this most ordinary truth.
“Oh! Of course. You’re right, you’re right!” Hot tears leapt from my eyes. “HOW did I miss that?”
And left me wondering how much else I’ve missed. Would the heavens be an endless scold from here through eternity. Well no, no that’s not very nice, and improbable. But what ELSE have I missed. I thought I’d seen so much. I’d boasted to myself of all I’d seen in my long years.
But if I failed to know the Sycamore and what they mark, and I had lived among, then…..
…..What colors have I failed to observe. What minute’s turning to me of a friendly face, a smile I abandoned too soon. What bright light from a baby’s eyes sent to me like a piercing message I must never forget — yet did not let register. What music, what delight, what pain, what love. What gentle brush of a wagging tail. What barely felt breezes stirring from the crow’s wings. The kindness of the bus driver who stopped at the patter of my running feet. The twice-warmed coffee, the special dish, the hearty greeting. The rising sun’s heroics….. from which I had driven west.
How could I have missed that.
I think we can experience everything, you know, have it all. We have so many receptors, unused, untried, even unknown. So that walking forward with assurance that every nuance be seized, filtered in by hair and smell and dangerously opportunistic raw flesh…..open to all of it, because knowing is living.
I mean to say, the thought itself must be a poke from heaven, must it not?
Wouldn’t it be marvelous to surprise the Saints and ourselves simply by paying attention a bit more.
Happy New Year. Here comes 2018.