Tuesday, October 19, 2010


This morning I finished my newspaper route just before six o'clock. It was still very dark, but a perfect mid-fall morning: clear and cold. The crisp air made the stars seem even brighter, cutting straight down into me. Orion soared overhead in his winter habitat; Cassiopeia was even vividly recognizable from my childhood memories; the Big Dipper was tipped clear on its side, ladling its contents over hundreds of millions of square miles.

I was exhausted--I've been trying to get by on five hours of sleep too many days in a row--but I felt that contented sense of accomplishment that follows a job well done. Even a mundane job. I was eagerly anticipating crawling back into my warm bed and getting another hour's rest. The song on my iPod was "One" by U2, though it was the Mary J. Blige cover version. I think "One" is probably my favorite song of all time, and Ms. Blige's version beats the pants off even the sublime original.

I walked over to my car and looked up into that awesome, cold sky, held my arms aloft and let those remarkable lyrics just wash over me:

Did I ask too much?
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now that's all I got

We're one
But we're not the same
Will we hurt each other?
Then we do it again

You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law

Love is a temple
Love the higher law

You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can't be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should

One life with each other

One life
But we're not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other . . . .

I was transported a billion miles away from that cold dark street and I felt like a part of the music, like a key cog in the immense functioning of the universe, a person who might make a difference with the power to help carry others. Arms still aloft, I spun around and looked skyward at all of God's glorious creation, as if I might somehow embrace it all. It was one of those moments when you are completely by yourself, and yet your connection to every living thing is so powerful that you feel like a sister to each human child and red-gold maple.

Then I heard a noise.

I stopped and looked. A man with a dog, whom I sometimes see in the morning on a different street, was walking toward me, just fifteen feet away. He glanced at me in the dark and quickly switched to the other side of the street. No doubt to get away from the crazy woman, who at least had the sense to keep her barbaric yawping to herself. All my momentary poetry turned to prose and, holding my head down, jumped in the car, missing first gear in my haste to get away.

Ten minutes later I crawled into bed, all glorious sense of possibility drained away, today feeling no more or less special and essential than yesterday or the day before. Exhaustion was more powerful than my insight into the divine.

But for a moment, just before dawn, I knew that the whole universe was possible, my potential limitless, my capacity to DO immense. You must download that song--it is the best $1.29 I've ever spent.


emandtrev said...

I love that song--both the original and the cover.

Your experience reminded me of the time when our next door neighbor caught me singing Jim Hendrix' "Foxy," complete with the motions they do in the Wayne's World movie. Granted, I was about 15, but still.

I have this feeling that the scene before that man's eyes was much better--especially when coupled with the starry sky above!

chris w said...

I love it.

He always keeps us humble - even in our moments of enlightenment. :)