‘The Prophet’: On Friendship

On the clarity of true friendship…

You friend is your needs answered.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

The Snow: Episode V

The light of day was fully upon this place now.  Its essence filtered through clouds and falling snow, only a shadow of its true strength, fighting its way to my eyes through air marred with the scurrying flakes of ice carried about by wind.  Like a fog the snow masked reality from perception as it was carried upon clouds dark and thick and gray, and these clouds, acting in unison with the snow, swathed the presence of life in coverage deep and cold and ever-present.  Beholding this new reality breathtakingly excited my senses.

Despite this, what more was there to see?  My journey carried me to and fro, filling my eyes with the wonders and splendor of the season.  No greater appreciation for this scene and no greater understanding of the snow’s will could be found.  My satisfaction was deep with the sights I beheld, my senses overwhelmed with wondrous beauty.  No metamorphosis was ever as divine as that with which the snow now presented its new world, still making and transfiguring all that is and was into all that could be and would be.

I turned once again to glance behind me, to quantify in measurable sensations the distances and places already traversed.  As before, even now I could see my footsteps in the snow rapidly disappearing under the cloak of white thrown heavily atop all things.

Snow-covered trees lining the creek (126_2691)

I found myself standing near the creek again.  Its frigidly dark waters made more evident by the snowy white cover, I contemplated how the water must feel as it made its way through the snow toward the lake.  These waters would never pass this way again, not in the same essence with which they now journey.  Was the snow also pressing it forward, knowing its existence would end as it joined the lake and became one with that larger body of water?  How did the creek feel about its murky depths contrasting so evidently with the snow’s pristine whiteness?  Did it wish to linger a bit more, to romp playfully between its own banks in the snow’s winter playground?

For a moment, I thought I heard the creek’s silent whispers of jealousy and awe.  Perhaps that was merely my own imagination, yet it seemed so real to me.

The creek running through the snow (126_2697)

I continued on my way, now much closer to where this journey began.  I could not see my home through the curtain of snow and the trees hanging thickly with foliage of white ice.  Nonetheless, it called to me, I know, beckoning to me with promises of warmth and comfort and protection from the storm.  Even in the stifled voice with which it whisperingly shouted to me through the hush of the snow, I recognized its loneliness, its cries for my return.  Is that my own loneliness reaching out now, hoping for some company, some sign of life in this beautifully barren tundra?

My feet carried me forward across the creek.  Here where my journey was youngest there was no trace of my passage.  The snow’s fervent power was most evident now, having covered so entirely and successfully what evidence there had been of my path from home to the lake.  My soul cried out now, wanting desperately to understand why I was here, but even more importantly wanting to share this with someone.  No one could claim such beauty alone; no one could enjoy the world’s transformation more than would be possible were it shared with someone close.

Now your journey ends.  You are one with us, having partaken of all that we offer, having traveled within and without, having supped at the table of our wintry bounty and filled your cup with the strength of our silence.

The words rang hollow for me, momentarily at least, as I struggled to understand.

Your place is here.  Take refuge under the last bastions of the tree’s cover.  Its branches provide that which you need to fill your eyes one last time with the world we create.

I stood breathlessly under the trees sagging, snow-laden branches, glancing about me here and there, realizing finally that I had enjoyed the morning as much as one alone was able.

The creek running through the snow (127_2706)

I was one with the snow now, covered from head to toe with increasingly comfortable white camouflage, its cold no longer bitter to the touch or taste.  The wind enveloped me with mental warmth stemming from my enjoyment of the landscapes transmutation.  Standing beneath naked branches clothed in snow, their presence offering minimal protection from the icy onslaught, I realized my desire to enjoy this event alone had passed.  My camera was full of photographs and my mind overflowed with the wonder of this new world.  The hours I spent here watching the snow were now complete, having fulfilled my need and desire to experience this event alone.

Within me, only now becoming visible to my mind’s eye, my aloneness took flight and became very real to me.  Such beauty and power must be shared.  I did not regret the lonely trek I had taken.  It was more than enjoyable.  I dared not deny that, yet equally I would not deny that my enjoyment now would be more acute were it shared with another.

Only then did I acknowledge the increasing sounds and movement in the park.  Upon glancing about me, I saw the stirrings of people.  In the hours since I had come to this place, I alone had enjoyed its beauty, bathing in the undisturbed act of creation taking place.  While I had not considered the absence of others until now, I was happy to be gifted alone with that experience.  Still, my heart yearned now to share this with someone, having expended my selfish interest in the lack of human interaction.

Are you so unable to see that which is before you?  We joined with you and you with us.  Our creation is not yet complete.  Joined one with the other, we and you and you and we, the power of our silence and strength of our smallness births a world familiarly alien.  This we bequeath to you, to those who join you.  Immutable only while we are strong, we cannot maintain our presence here.  Enjoy our silence.  Enjoy our beauty.  Enjoy our strength.  Time is short; do not delay.

The coldness and silence and heavily falling snow enshrouded me so utterly and completely now as I stood beneath the tree’s nakedness and covering.

“Jason…”

Muffled to near silence, the call was unheard at all but at the most shallow levels of hearing.  This was not the voice of the snow.  Never had it spoken to me aloud; only in my mind could its voice be perceived.  I could see perhaps three or four other people in the park now.  Surely the greeting was meant for one of them.

“Jason!”

Again I heard it, louder this time, yet it was drowned by the silence which covered the world.  I turned slowly, scanning my surroundings carefully as I searched through the veil of snow until I saw them.  Wylie was bounding forward, having just discovered his tennis ball hidden beneath the blanket of snow, his tail wagging happily as he saw me.  I could see Rick behind him waving and calling to me, his voice now only recognizable because I was looking in his direction, the heartfelt joy evident in his face, gestures, and speaking of my name.

How wonderful I felt.  The snow was magical, made more so by the opportunity to enjoy it before its violation by humans.  More importantly, I now was presented the opportunity to share its remaining beauty and mystery with both Rick and Wylie, to see the creation, a sheer act of will, take place in the company of loved ones.

We bequeathed to you all that you desired.  You have become the power of our silence, the strength of our stillness, and the world made from our essence.  Crafted from water and cold is the naissance of our existence.  Our will incarnate have you felt, our dominion manifested have you witnessed.  All these things we have shown you and done for you.  Have we not satiated your desire to experience such things?

I could not disagree with the sentiment.  Yes, you have.  You have fulfilled my every whim and allowed me to enjoy your creation without the interruption of others.  Now you have delivered just the company I was looking for, both coming to enjoy what you have created for us.

I turned the camera off and slipped it into my pocket as Wylie reached my position, dropped his snow-covered tennis ball at my feet, and leaped on me with great love and affection, licking my hooded face with eager joy and excitement.  Rick followed not far behind, the smile on his face warming me to the core despite the coldness of this place.  Having taken my fill of the snow in the hours prior to their arrival, I was now ready to renew my enjoyment of this winter wonderland.  My mind and camera filled with the images and experiences of a lonely morning in the midst of such fantastic magnificence, my heart now called out the hope of sharing the rest of the event with others.

In the grip of the earth’s silent confetti, I reached down, grabbed the ball, and threw it further into the park and watched happily as Wylie bounded after it in great leaps and strides, kicking up snow as he joyfully pursued his quarry.  Rick then stepped up beside me and wrapped his arms around me momentarily, whispering good mornings and winter salutations in my ear.  We laughed together marveling at Wylie’s enjoyment of this new world.  We spoke in large whispers of the wonder of this place, the exquisiteness of the lake’s metamorphosis, and our shared excitement at sharing it together.  Then we both turned and followed in Wylie’s path.  We could see him romping in the snow in the hopes of finding the hidden ball that surely must be taunting him from its cloaked position.  We laughed and walked on.

My cat hates you

At a small birthday dinner with friends almost two weeks ago, Libby gave me a book called Bad Cat.  A description on the front says, “244 not-so-pretty kitties and cats gone bad” as well as “WARNING: may contain offensive feline material.”  Jenny and I glanced through the first quarter of the book while we visited with David and Libby before dinner.  We laughed uproariously.  The book is filled with some of the best cat pictures I’ve seen recently.  Along with each picture is a caption, and these are often terribly funny or simply outrageous.

I finished the book only yesterday as Grendel’s situation kept me from doing so.  At the end was mention of a web site called My Cat Hates You.  Like the book, it is filled with photos of and wisecracks about cats.  The photos, of course, include a large number of those pictures your cat will kill you for showing.  I highly recommend you go take a look as this is worth hours of entertainment.