Photo of Lace Williams-Tinajero's undisclosed huckleberry patch

Holding on in the letting go in a pandemic: Nature’s Door

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Holding on in the letting go in a pandemic: Nature’s Door

By Lace Williams-Tinajero

Nature compels me to enter its wild spaces. Green pastures on a hillside, sunlit skies in the morning and evening, purple-black-blue mountains — these offer glimpses of the divine.

Yet nature’s unpredictable landscape has a way of dismantling the clean lines kept between life and death, health and sickness, light and dark, the sacred and earthy.

In the wild, there is no either-or. Nature is both a shelter from and source of disaster. Lightning strikes a tree and obliterates its branches. A whale surfaces and the only signs of it being near are the whirlpools forming around my boat. A pack of feral dogs disappears down a trail and the lead dog chases after the one who has been warned never to run.

Things are going as planned until the blow of a diagnosis one day.

Is uncertainty the only certainty?

Nature has a way of cradling opposites in space and time, like two sides of the same hand. An unbroken horse must be tamed if it is to race. A pile of animal bones beneath a bush bursting with fresh huckleberries wasn’t there last season. This white heap of a once-living animal cries out a different story than the one I tell myself. Life is never completely safe.

Yet as long there is death there is the will to survive. Suffering and loss coexist with purpose. Just because a child cannot speak or hear, is he less human? If a child isn’t wanted, does she still matter?

If security is not readily found in others or in nature, it must be discovered in solitude. It makes no sense to put trust in something or someone that promises healing and deliverance yet is not there to protect in the first place.

Unless, that is, blame is placed at the wrong door.

What if the heart opens once again to love? Maybe, just maybe, something besides pain will follow this time.

Blindness and sight composed Bartimaeus’s heart song. He sat begging on the side of the road, crying out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Then Jesus made him see.

Mystics claim that God’s essence remains unknowable even while God’s activity reveals who God is: Love. Centuries ago on Mount Athos, where only men are allowed, a group of monks claimed to have encountered the uncreated light of the Godhead by reciting the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Unbelievers questioned the truth of the believers’ claims.

Bartimaeus’s words two millennia ago prove timeless. For the monks on Mount Athos in the fourteenth century. For us today. For all. Forever. The hidden and revealed face of God abides in creation while setting it free.

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