Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August 31: Goldfinch, Alleluia Moment, Charlie Chaplin

The goldfinch here on the fringed thistletop was burying her head with each light thrust deeper into the seedcase.  Her fragile legs braced to her task on the vertical, thorny stem; the last of the thistledown sprayed and poured.  Is there anything I could eat so lightly, or could I die so fair?  With a ruffle of feathered wings the goldfinch fluttered away, out of range of the broken window's frame and toward the deep blue shade of the cliffs where late fireflies already were rising alight under the trees.  I was weightless; my bones were taut skins blown with buoyant gas; it seemed that if I inhaled too deeply, my shoulders and head would waft off.  Alleluia.

Dillard is having what I call an Alleluia moment.  It's when, for whatever reason, grace sort of descends upon you.  The whole world suddenly seems transformed into beauty.  Dillard, watching a goldfinch eating thistle, feels the very pull of gravity dissipate from her body.  She's weightless.  Winged.  As if, with a single breath, she could float into the heavens.

I realize that last night's posts weren't very grace-filled.  No Alleluia moments.  Understand that, every time these half-truths and rumors about job eliminations spread through the university departments, I get a little unnerved.  It's sort of like I'm living on the fringe of a forest that's raging with fire.  The wind shifts in my direction, and my house burns down.  At least, that's what it feels like.

I am trying to embrace grace today.  Tonight, I teach my film class.  We are watching a Charlie Chaplin movie.  Seeing Chaplin in a boxing ring, dancing around his opponent and the referee, is enough to lift my spirits.  Laughter does that, like turning on a light in a dark room.  Plus, I really enjoy talking about films and film theory.  It makes all those hours I spent as a kid reading books about the history of horror, science fiction, and animated movies worthwhile, as if I was simply preparing myself for this evening.

I don't feel quite as transformed as Dillard does in the passage I quoted.  But, after a couple of days, I have a better perspective on my future at the university.  I'm not going to start packing up my office just yet.  I don't feel quite so angry or hopeless.  After twenty years, five university presidents, seven English Department Heads, I'm still here, talking about writing and film and literature.  That says something.

They're going to have to light a stick of dynamite under Saint Marty's ass to get rid of him.

Laughter is a sign of grace, I think

No comments:

Post a Comment