Don’t open the door to heaven … you might get a migraine and your head could fall off and smash into hundreds of pieces like Tullio Lombardos 6’3″ marble Renaissance sculpture of Adam that fell to the ground at the Metropolitan Museum and has skid marks on its torso where it slid across the patio floor . It was only after Adams fall that conservators saw how Tullio had created it with a head of curly locks and a dreamy stare , originally meant for a tomb . And across the sea in Belgium , is another restoration , an alter piece called The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb , a luminous oil with a white chalk under painting and the lamb bleeds with mystery in the details lurking beneath .
It is too early for me to hear the cars as my feet follow the white line at the edge of M-22 where off to the north I see a glimpse of dark blue thru the woods of the waves crashing ashore , no lack of serenity for my throbbing head . Look , deer tracks like words in a story held in the soft earth , prints crossing from one side of the road to the other , a plot still unfolding as the white line belts around the earth from the 45th parallel and goes on and on … I am on my way .
Look , look above us – the flight of a lone airplane below the clouds … perhaps on a search for Utopia , the good place , the place that cannot be … I remember Pan Am Airlines , the queen of the skies , at its height in the 60’s , an icon with its blue globe logo and white pilot uniform caps . A representative once coming to our house having an interview with me to become a stewardess as my parents listened with hopeful anticipation . I was 17 and failed . I remember penny loafers , elevators with music , the fluorescent blue light of the oversized clocks next to the stage of velvet curtains in the movie theatre , the red colored bricks of our house in the suburbs , the cutting of forsythia branches with my mom , the horse barn of my grandparents where an uncle hung himself . . . my dads big nose and how I’m attracted to men like that and who wear wingtip shoes like he did … remembering , remembering and now it is raining and I’m still on this white line , the rain dripping like some leaky faucet in my mind .
It was a bright cold day in November , 1965 and the radio was blaring with the Detroit Lions football game when my dad drove my brother and I to his deer hunting cabin in the upper peninsula … my first time where in the silence of the snow a deer appeared and stood looking at us . Was this the white stag , the elusive , radiant , eerie , awe-inspiring messenger from the otherworld ? I could see the shine in his eyes as my dad raised his rifle to aim , hesitated , his hands shaking , dropping his gun as the deer jumped like a dancer away in the snow and my dad only said , I heard the whisper , ” I am a sick man , a coward “.
All this happened … Something got dim for him until he couldn’t see his true nature , his beautiful nature . Criticism was of no interest , nor was praise – and it was the first time I saw him drunk on alcohol and the first time I knew the deer was within my soul , did I see the vision of Christ between the antlers ? After my dad died I thought of cutting off his buttons so his spirit could escape and I wished I would have sewn up his pockets so he couldn’t take his bad luck with him to the spirit world … a white thread sewn around the universe . He lived a ravishing style filled with fiery colors and blunt textures , but when he saw the innocence of that majestic deer creature , he bowed in graditude for its life . I choose to hold this sacredness in my memory .
” Watch the birdie , click , click ” , I hear my mother say gaily , snapping our 1965 Christmas card photo . I know she doesn’t know of ” the romance of the fragment ” , the process when ancient sculptures are left unrestored if they crack with age , like the armless Venus de Milo , it’s presence overpowering the Louve in Paris , a city my mom dreamed of going to . I like to think that if she did really walk along the right bank of the Seine River , she could have remained in love with my dad like they were when I was born and loved him even more … even with his missing arm … Where did it go , that arm , that wing ? Is it above the clouds where the Pan Am airplane ascended or is it lost in the snows like white chalk of northern most Michigan making the whole universe translucent , or is it dripping in the red blood of that lamb? I hear thunder rumbling ahead to the west still walking on this white line following M-22 ? I remember last night now , my bedroom window here , the window here in Glen Arbor as I saw the glass panes evolving as though the window were gradually eating the wall that held it . I am on my way …
“Blessed are the meek , for they shall inherit the earth ”
” Beatitude is a possession of all things held to be good , from which nothing is absent that a good desire may want . Perhaps the meaning of beatitude may become clearer to us if it is compared to its opposite . Now the opposite of beatitude is misery . Misery means being afflicted unwillingly with painful sufferings “.
contemplation from St. Gregory of Nyssa , a mystic …
Note : flower photo at beginning and pine branch in nature are by Bill Ecklund Photography
music score for this chapter : ” Blackbird ” by the Beatles