"Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next." Lewis Carroll--Alice in Wonderland
In Salvation on Sand Mountain, Dennis Covington explores the idea that human beings instinctively know where they come from, even if they don't. I believe in this. Somewhere in the deep, I know who I am. I know it when I hear bagpipes. I know it when I am afraid of the snakes in the garden. (And when they make me blind with fear-rage and I whack their heads off with the hoe.) I know it like I know what's True, even when I can't explain how I know or why. Last week, I bought Bill Monroe's version of the Hank Williams song, I Saw the Light, and I knew who I am when I listened to it. (Myrtle must have known who she was in her living-life, too, because she showed up on the front porch halfway through.) Hank Williams is as soft and familiar as wheat bread, clean sheets and bare feet in the summertime. He's somewhere in my vernacular. I think I've assimilated* Hank Williams. Yes, that must be it.
Lately, all the things I've assimilated are a comfort to me. I feel like Alice, tumbling down the well feet-first and in slow motion. Instead of bemoaning his tardiness, my rabbit says How could you DO this to me? How COULD you do this to me? How could you to this to ME? I want to say, "Hey Rabbit, you're the one who threw me in this hole." And as I go, fanny over teakettle as the case may be, I grab my assimilations off the shelves and hold them near.
The Big Church
Sitting in the Big Church on Sunday, I noticed a Very Old Man in the pew in front of me. His hair was very white and his skin was very brown. His wife had a slight bob in her head. At first, I thought she was just very much in agreement with the pastor, but I think she might have had a little tremor. I looked around in the congregation and counted the Old People. The Old GrayHairs. There were a lot. And I remembered how much I miss Old People. It isn't that there is anything wrong with Young People, even God says so, but I've missed those Old People in the same way I'd miss Hank Williams, wheat bread and bare feet in the summertime should I ever be denied. Old People, after all, are not as permanent as they seem. Or as we would wish them to be.
*Merriam-Webster defines "assimilate" as a transitive verb: to take in and utilize as nourishment.