We sat on the porch that morning. Our little band of Peacehaven dwellers gathered up like we were itching to get at something. It wasn’t quite hot yet, but almost. Anne sat on my left. We rocked our chairs together.
The brothers fiddled with their thoughts and various social negotiations—eyes darting here and there, with a “you know what…” followed by an awkward joke or two. We let it pass as a group. Those things happen. We kept rocking.
Then, all of a sudden, there was peace.
Out of this peace one of the resident assistants, Joey, pulled a Mary Oliver volume and said he wanted to read us a favorite poem. So he did, and we listened and rocked.
It was transcendent. I do not remember which poem it was exactly, except that it had something to do with water and venturing forth. It was beautiful, but not in a pretty way. It was beautiful in a real way, an essential way—in a way that leads to life.
In the quiet that chased the reading, the rocking continued. We were hushed for a while as the art settled into our souls and bodies. Then the RA raised the questions: What did you hear in the poem? What did you see? What did you feel?
“You know wuuut…I like that story. I like it.” Thank you, brother Jake. He’s normally the quiet one. Heads nodded acknowledgement and thanks around our circle.
Rock, rock, rock.
I looked over at Anne. Her mischievous eyes were shining. I had often noticed those eyes searching, especially in social situations. Searching for cues as to what to do or say. Searching to understand humor or censure, much like my own at times.
In this instant, though, like I said: Anne’s eyes were shining.
Anne, what did you see in the poem, in the story?
“Wow. Just wow.” A favorite Anne-response to wondrous things, mundane or majestic. I half expected that to be all she’d want to say. Heaven knows it would have been enough.
But Anne kept talking,
“I loved the water—
Mom and Dad. They live in Maine, in Maine in the summer.
The water. I like the water. And the bird.
Flying over the water. In Maine.
Mom and Dad live
I wish I knew how to describe the journey Anne took us on with her beautiful staccato storytelling. You might understand if you know her. It takes a relationship, living side by side someone—different abilities or no—to accompany them on a trip of the heart. To meet them in their experience of God’s grace.
I was lucky to be there.
An offering of beauty or mystical transcendence leads to communion with one another and Holy Mystery. This, hallelujah, is not barred from the differently abled. God does not require a certain pattern of brain function to show up and show out. For us on that porch, in the almost heat of the day, Anne preached with her few words a sermon of gratitude and wonder. Her eyes gave away the closeness of the Divine.
When Moses came down from the mountain after the glory of the Lord had passed before him, the people said his face was different. That it shined.
When Jesus was met by God, Moses, and Elijah up on another mountain that time, Peter, James, and John fell to the ground. And they wanted to stay there, for Jesus shined.