Friday, May 8, 2009

I walked up to the church in the dark, as I said. There was a very bright moon. It's strange how you never quite get used to the world at night. I have seen moonlight strong enough to cast shadows any number of times. And the wind is the same wind, rustling the same leaves, night or day. When I was a young boy I used to get up before every dawn of the world to fetch water and firewood. It was a very different life then. I remember walking out into the dark and feeling as if the dark were a great, cool sea and the houses and the sheds and the woods were all adrift in it, just about to ease off their moorings. I always felt like an intruder then, and I still do, as if the darkness had a claim on everything, one that I violated just by stepping out my door. This morning the world by moonlight seemed to be an immemorial acquaintance I had always meant to befriend. If there was ever a chance, it has passed. Strange to say, I feel a little that way about myself. 
In any case, it felt so necessary to me to walk up the road to the church and let myself in and sit there in the dark waiting for the dawn to come that I forgot all about the worry I might be causing your mother. It is actually hard for me to remember how mortal I am these days. There are pains, as I said, but not so frequent or even so severe when they come that I am as alarmed by them as I should be.
I must try to be more mindful of my condition. I started to lift you up into my arms the other day, the way I used to when you weren't quite so big and I wasn't quite so old. Then I saw your mother watching me with pure apprehension and I realized what a foolish thing to do that was. I just always loved the feeling of how strongly you held on, as if you were a monkey up in a tree. Boy skinniness and boy strength. 

--Gilead, Marilynne Robinson, (2004)



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