©Moronic Ox Literary Journal - Escape Media Publishers / Open Books
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About the Author:
David A. Ross is the author of five novels, one short story collection and one collection of essays. His 1997 novel, Calico Pennants was a finalist in the National Writer's Association Novel Competition. His most recent novel, The Virtual Life of Fizzy Oceans, was published in 2012.
by David A. Ross
Twilight is a magical time - a brief interlude each day between light and darkness. Shadows encroach upon well defined forms seen in daylight, and a veil of mystery shrouds the terrain as well as the landscape of perception. How very brief and fleeting it is, this sigh between breaths. One has only to blink and the light has given yet another measure to chiaroscuro. Another day has passed, and the coming night holds the promise of untold dreams, but for this brief moment, a time each day when we pass between the literal world of bold images and precise definitions into the shadows of a less fathomable world, it is sometimes possible to glimpse - just for a nanosecond - the face of The Eternal. Some might chide me, I know, for waxing metaphysical, but I just can' help it. Like so many others, I spend my daylight hours locked firmly in the universe of shapes and forms. I live my days, more or less, as a realist, dealing with the many literal problems that each of us confronts every day. All too seldom do I notice the reverence of subtlety, but when it intrudes itself upon my consciousness - usually at the most unexpected moments - I can only stop dead in my tracks and take notice of the grandeur before me. At such moments I am catapulted - almost beyond my control - into a world where definitions are far less concrete, a space where questions seem to have far more relevance than answers, a state of mind where time seems nothing more than an immature joke I play on myself, a split second when God shows His face and smiles even as I reel in the Wonder of Creation. Surely, we all experience such moments, yet understanding escapes us again and again. That is the very nature of what mystics throughout the Ages have called 'A Sense of Wonder'. Recently, I experience one of these moments. It occurred at twilight as a took my dog for his evening walk. I live in a semi-rural area on a one-lane road that snakes its way up the low mountains behind my house. Small farms, overgrown pastures and untamed forests of olive and cypress trees define the landscape. One hears the usual crowing of cocks and the braying of donkeys, the hissing of cicadas and the night call of owls: these features are common elements of my environment, and ephemeral as they are, I am well accustomed to them and usually take scant notice of them. But on this particular night, this voluptuous twilight, I encountered in a meadow a swarm of what must have been thousands of fireflies blinking their beacons in perfect rhythm. I stopped dead in my tracks, and my dog made his way through the long grasses (he's only about twenty centimeters tall) to an opening in a fence where he too could watch the majesty of this not-often-seen spectacle. Indeed, time seemed to stop as together we watched the pulsing lights outline a perfect yet undefinable pattern, again and again. I was mesmerized by this spectacle of nature, and what's more, I was happy - even blissful - in my suddenly perceived smallness, in my apparently obvious comprehension gap, and in the very fact that some greater force had chosen this time and place for winsome frolic even as my humble presence was but a barely noticeable coincidence. There I stood, headlong and without warning, in the Empyrean. How many minutes I remained at the meadow watching this graceful ballet, I cannot say. For me, time had ceased, even as the twilight gave way to darkness. Gradually, I began breathing again; the earth resumed its rotation upon its axis. I ventured a step forward. I took another step backwards. The ground seemed solid underfoot. Yet something had happened - something important. If only I might remember; if only I might embrace some new understanding; if only I might capture the moment and put it in a jar (as we children did with the many fireflies we caught as daylight turned to dusk); if only I might somehow remain in the ecstatic balance of that moment for all eternity! But alas! I was cast once more, as the darkness grew full and the fireflies moved away, into the mundane world of my ever-so-narrow expectations. Still, I am glad for even a glimpse of this ecstatic dance, and for a rekindling of my 'Sense of Wonder'. Maybe it is overly indulgent to rephrase rhetorical questions we have all asked a thousand times, but perhaps they are, on the morning after the night before, worthy of yet another enquiry: Why do we allow such things as HDTV, business balance sheets, high horsepower or vacuum packaging to dominate our lives to the point where such nurturing and ecstatic experiences (be it fireflies, or a beautiful sunset, or the wind in our hair, or the birth of a baby baboon) become uncommon and unexpected events, revealing and enlightening though they are? I am as guilty of this oversight as anyone, but this evening, as the light fades to darkness, I shall be revisiting that meadow just to see if I might be treated to an encore performance. And if the fireflies have moved elsewhere, so be it. I just hope that wherever they might have gone, someone is there to see the Light that I was so privileged to witness - even for a split second!