On Friday, I was in the presence of healing. I was not in a hospital or a church. I was not at the bedside of someone who is struggling with illness. I was not on my knees in prayer though the whole of the day felt like one, long conversation with the Holy. So,perhaps, it was prayer.
Instead, I was in the front row pew of my car traveling the highways and back roads of southern Minnesota. My husband and I had decided to do a little road trip for the day. Travel down the Minnesota side of the river and then cross over into Wisconsin and make our way home from the view of our neighboring state. But before we made it to the river, we took the rolling roads of farmland and small town,our eyes soaking in the possibility, the promise of what is yet to be. It was like watching the act of resurrection in its infant stages.
For as far as the eye could see fields unfolded, their soil in various stages of readiness for planting. In some the rivulets of blades were visible and I imagined the farmers having driven through the land with hope tucked in their jean pockets. Other fields were marked with last year’s corn stalks nubbed off and sticking up like a bad crew cut on a young boy’s head. But even those fields held the promise of ‘not yet’ but soon.
In one field, we saw the gathering of a whole herd of what I have always called ‘Oreo cows’. I do not know their proper name but they have the look of an Oreo cookie….black head and upper body, black rump and tail, with a creamy white strip in the middle. They were too beautiful to pass up so we had to pull off and take some photos. In our stopping we noticed the numbers of young ones, new to the world, lying down for a morning,drinking from their mother’s undersides. There appeared to be a set of three snuggled up together…triplets? The adults in the group clearly were uncertain about the two-leggeds who had stopped to take in their sight. Looking at us with their enormous, brown eyes they began to move their community further away and down into the field to safety. But this was not before we got a good dose of healing and hope from their effort at continuing their species and also a nice experience of humor and awe that they exist at all.
This healing journey came after the longest winter, one that still does not want to leave us. Rain flecked with snow falls still as we make our way into May. And so the healing comes from the wisdom of those who do not know the calendar date but continue their push toward new life regardless of numbers assigned to days. These are the ones who feel the pull of seasons in ways undefined in human terms.
Like the pelicans that flew overhead in Friday, flapping their prehistoric looking wings and carrying their comical beaks along the springtime sky. These amazing white birds twisted and turned their way along the winding river route, periodically landing for a rest on the still frigid water. One would dip down, land, float and a few of its friends would do the same. To keep it company? Who knows. It was a beautiful and peaceful sight to these human eyes.
This road trip had the words of Wendell Berry’s poem floating through my head. Berry, a farmer by trade and a writer as well captures the gift we experienced:
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
And so it was. Freedom. Healing. Hope. Possibility. Imagination. Wisdom. All from those who have no words, who have no way of communicating the goodness and promise of the Universe except by being.
And that was more than enough.