This is what joy looks like

This is what joy looks like:

It looks like walking over the lawn in that time
of late winter’s striving with early spring,
when late afternoon and early evening brush fingers in passing,
throwing careless glances over shadowy shoulders,
and all the wealth of the sun’s golden fame has been heaped in the treetops,
mounted and piled among the far-flung boughs like plunder, forgotten—
or abandoned—in sudden flight. (Boys once sought a piece of this prize,
aiming their winged darts into all that opulence, hoping to see their arrow
gilded before falling to earth once more, transfigured.)

All earth holds its breath, waiting, for that one, clear, cold note;
for the ache of the thing that is surely coming; for the nativity of the world.
(You have forgotten to wait for it, sitting indoors with your fingers
interlaced, or kneeling to blow on bloodred coals yet smoldering upon a bed
of grey ash. But now you remember, stung alive by that keen air,
bearing tinctures of delicate things for all its rude handling—violets and tiny white feathers
and bits of blue shell at the foot of a tree. Forgetting takes time, but
remembrance is the matter of a moment.) It is then, when you have finally

opened your eyes that the miracle steals on tiptoe, lifting with smallest hands
the bank of heavy cloud which has sullened and saddened the earth all day,
throwing out in one radiant glance enough glory to christen the world. Thus known
and named, all things sing back themselves for sheer gladness, in flashes of
birdsong and music of color: Glory to thee and all thanks to thee, O Namegiver!
In that light, all is canticle and verse; all is wild tumult of praise: leaping serum
of veining sap and homing dove and bright cacophonous rooster’s crow!

And yet, the bird in the hedge falls silent, checked in his mad virtuosity
by that strange creeping splendor decanting itself like summer wine, casting a holy blush
over every living thing. It is in that moment, poised in perfection upon
the very doorstep of eternity, that you catch the echo of scarce-dreamed-of
desire, resonating down darkened vestibules, haunting the ventricles
and chambers of your heart. For one searing instant, you prize past all equal
the spangling of sun-shot tears trembling from the naked branches; the rising incense
of mist is more costly than gold, and that one aureate wisp caught among
the dark tresses of the pines far more precious—and then you know:

You are more alive than flesh and bone could ever hold;
more vital than body and blood and thought.

You are made for more
rapture than one life can contain.

5 Responses to “This is what joy looks like”

  1. Jessica T. says:

    This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing…

    P.S. I’m discovering that spring in “the South” is much more amazing than I thought it would be… 🙂


    Your words remind me of Little Giddings by TS Eliot:

    Midwinter spring is its own season
    Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
    Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
    When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
    The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
    In windless cold that is the heart’s heat,
    Reflecting in a watery mirror
    A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.
    And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
    Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
    In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
    The soul’s sap quivers……

  3. Yes, yes, yes! This is so beautifully crafted and written. How encouraging and bracing to hear this, Lanier. You do my heart good! 🙂

  4. BeBe says:

    Lanier, this is perfectly written. It is what I have sensed and felt during this season every year and have never been able to put into words. Sigh. Makes the heart smile. <3 🙂

  5. Suze says:

    You’ve given words to that moment when feelings are so strong, they are more than I can contain – we are meant for more than this thin life.

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