She was always seeking the moment when life itself would pool around her, then expand. Sometimes it would occur within the confines of spiritual practice, serene and austere. Other times it would come upon her dead drunk in a bar with an acquaintance whose name she could hardly recall. The largeness of the moment was a function of its wildness; it could not be beckoned, dissected, or tamed. All she could tell was that it seemed to thrive on thresholds, on the shifting of change. But the kind of moment she sought flowed out from between the fingers like water, was lost in the atmosphere of living like smoke. She did not understand this until she had achieved nearly every other goal.
More than one reputable religion had sung the gospel of detachment. She simply found this hard to reconcile with the crushing power of love. Was it possible, then, to fly like a kite, attached to earth by the thinnest of threads? Or was inner peace more readily achieved by loving things so common as to be harmless, like trees and stones? Chainsaws sang the song of drought in her neighborhood, felling trees like rain.
He found his truth in holy books, ancient scriptures and prophecy. He was moved by mighty words, passed down through generations. She gave him pinecones and bits of striated sandstone, things she found out walking. Saying, this is scripture. He set them on windowsills where they gathered dust. They had long, drawn-out arguments on the relative merits of religion. After a while they grew tired.
All they could agree on was Christmas. A day when peace rains down upon the world. When the malls sit silent as temples. When families reassemble, as if from the original blueprint of each—and go out walking in the afternoon, blinking at the houses around them, as if unaccustomed to home. When all are given golden treasure: time and silence. From these few gifts, perhaps, the world itself could be reassembled.
There was a place underneath the thinking she was always reaching for. Times when words and thoughts were constant inside her mind, she simply could not get there, no matter how long she tried. Other times she sat cross-legged in the sun and dove immediately to the bottom. Breath arose in waves, ascending and descending, tendrils of light extending from above. She knew things there without words forming themselves. Sometimes images came in flashes. And once, these words: Your place here is not to judge, but to believe the best that others believe of themselves.