In the scarcity of light…
In the Pacific Northwest, the light is an elusive and secretive lover for most of the year. A leaf laughingly tumbles on Autumn’s grey breeze, and, catching a shaft of light, it comes alive and dances with reckless abandon. A damp fog begins to lift its cold Winter blanket from the shore, and the rays of an arriving sun deliver the anemone clinging to the dark, dank crevice on volcanic stone debris. A momentary sliver appears through thick fern in a soaked Spring and the blossom of a tiny wild rose makes its debut on stage with a “ta-dah” in the fleeting spotlight.
Because of its scarcity most of the year, light is a precious commodity. When it would choose to reveal itself in the debris of the Northwest landscape, my breath would gasp at the glimpse of treasure with all the anticipation of a miner finding a vein of precious metal in a hillside of ordinary stone.
Contemplation of light, because of its scarcity, became a lens through which I viewed my world. Those tiny shafts of light were like tiny grace notes of hope suddenly appearing in a heavy Gustav Mahler symphony. And that search for the secretive Light in the tangled, explosive growth mimicked my own inner landscape.
My early childhood was filled with Stravinsky and Grofe. Sleeping Beauty and the Grand Canyon Suite. Expansive. Passionate. Full of hope, humor, and joy. But “after the fall,” the knife blade in the tender soul, the soundscape shifted to the darker Mahler and the strident Shostakovich. The light disappeared, except for tiny glimpses, and decades in the Northwest only served to highlight and reinforce the hiddenness of its appearance.
Now light runs amok in this desert landscape, without shame and without complexity. Each coming dawn it unabashedly announces its arrival, shoving any lingering clouds out of the way. This land is the sun’s dominion, and it is the shadows that hide here awaiting moments of discovery.
Here light is bold and in your face. Here light holds you up to deep examination and declares you beautiful. Here light looks at the knife scar and sings a new song over it, rewriting the symphony with joyful trumpet declaration and swelling strings that move like waves of wild, rushing water in a desert wash.
This land sees the parched rocky soil and pours out rivers of thundering rain. This land explodes in joy in the gift of the monsoon season. This land celebrates every new morn, every fading into night, with a palette of rich colors that defy description.
Some would call this desert a brutal landscape.
But I believe it is a tender one.
The light in the desert speaks the language of love. Loudly and without reservation. The light in the desert is awash with generous grace and fearless hope.
And the light in the desert composes a symphony I hope to hear until my dying breath.