I told someone not long ago that when I was a child, I seemed to know intuitively of the magic within things…rocks, rivers, leaves, books, flowers…the wonder that was there, waiting for me as a gift, if I was patient enough, still enough, thoughtful enough. In fact, I remember the feeling and deep desire that if I could just loosen up enough or look intently enough, perhaps I could even see inside, beneath the surface, into the heart of things… This was not a wish for x-ray vision, but rather the belief that somehow I was being invited in to see the essential and that it was possible.
This conversation returned to me earlier this afternoon as I stared into a pot of drinking chocolate on the stove. I had whisked together 3 oz. of grated dark chocolate, 2 oz. of grated 72% cacao chocolate, the finely grated zest of a clementine/satsuma, a pinch of sea salt, two pinches of cinnamon, just a hint of sugar, and 2 cups of milk. I was whisking and watching for just the moment it would reach a boil…I realized at a certain moment that in fact what I was trying to do was see below the surface to know when the bubbles would rise…or perhaps, as when I was a child, I thought I might chance to see the moment of perfect blending when the flavors all come together and harmonize into a whole greater than the component ingredients.
Standing there in the kitchen, I also thought about how this morning I was nestled into the corner of the third level in a local coffee shop, reading a book and writing a bit. One of the books I wanted to read over break is The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. Unbelievably to many, I have made it this far without having done so and it was time to remedy the gap. More than half way through this adventure, Bastian has entered Fantastica and this morning was conversing with Grograman the lion, also known as The Many Colored Death. Bastian, the first to ever eat and sleep with the lion, the first to weep at his daily death, asks if it is possible to stay with him. To this question, Grograman replies
Here there is only life and death, only Perilin and Goab, but no story. You must live your story. You cannot remain here.
And it occurred to me that perhaps that is the essential that I strive to see, to live, to taste, touch…the final result of the chocolate in my mug is not a moment, but the taste of a story of flavors. The heart of a stone is not a single flash, but cosmic years of light that has traveled incalculable distance. What ever I dare to write is not a final fixed work but part of a larger whole resting on the page, waiting to be freed in the reading of it by others.
All of this makes me see too that what I learn of God, the presence I experience, into which I am invited, and which is accessible, the faith that I have, is not a single observable thing, but a lived Love that is itself a grand tale without end. A tale I am asked to live actively, intensely, one page at a time, no skipping ahead, no staying put.
And I have to say that part of the thrill is not knowing what will come as well as looking forward to finding out.
The chocolate was certainly delicious…