Thursday, February 14, 2008

Feb. 14, 2008

Dear Julie,

James Taylor wrote a song about a man whose frozen body was discovered in the ice 100 years after he died in some mishap at sea. Peg-legged and one-eyed, "The Frozen Man" comes back to life, visiting the graves of his wife and daughter, losing his life and finding it again. He knows his name, date of birth and hometown. "But that ain't who I am," he sings.

Trees all over Southeast Missouri are in a similar state, covered in ice from a storm. The glistening beauty is also heartbreaking. After many hours without relief some begin soughing in the windless sky, the weight of the ice coating them creating a rhythm that eventually buckles the aged branches and sends them crashing to the earth. A friend said they made her think of the brittle bones of elderly people, also so vulnerable to ice.

Giants have fallen all over town. They make me think of the obituary page. Every month someone I grew up admiring seems to make an appearance there. But the facts and figures ain't who they were. They mostly were golden.

DC took the day after the storm off and called every few hours to update me on the latest disaster at home. One branch blocked our driveway, another took out a section of fence, another smashed our glass picnic table into pieces indistinguishable from the ice on the ground.

But these are only inconveniences. Thousands have lived without heat and electricity for days. People are going out of their way to help each other, taking in friends and family members who would otherwise go to a shelter or spend the lightless nights huddled under blankets. Ultimately, we only have each other to depend on.

Nature is fierce and sometimes can seem unfriendly. The philosopher and writer Rudolph Steiner believed that nature spirits -- fairies and gnomes and the like -- were based on more than just legends and fairy tales. He believed they were elemental beings who inhabited a spiritual reality humanity has lost contact with because we view the world more and more through a technological prism. Gnomes or not, the reality we have created can make frozen men of us all, all awaiting awakening. Storms are good places to start.

Valentine's Day almost has gotten lost in this upheaval in our natural world. It is love that makes trees rise toward the sun, love that reminds us of our elemental connection with all living beings on earth, love that makes each one of us equal in God's eyes. Whether we're frozen this winter or French fried next summer, love will see us through.

Rumi says:

"Let us fall in love again

And scatter gold dust all over the world.

Let us become a new spring

And feel the breeze drift in the heaven's scent.

Let us dress the earth in green,

And like the sap of a young tree

Let the grace from within sustain us,

Let us carve gems out of our stony heart

And let them light our path to Love.

The glance of Love is crystal clear

And we are blessed by its light."

Love, Sam

Sam Blackwell is a reporter for the Southeast Missourian.

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