As winter hit full stride Dan drifted off deep into something we didn’t recognize. The imaginative stories of the moment were missing, the exaggerated tales of fishing outings from earlier in the year that we had become so accustomed to, faded. Instead, he took on a quiet demeanor – one of reflection and contemplation, rather than some lonely sadness that winter is all apt to do. We knew better than to query him on his whereabouts, knowing the time wasn’t right. Winter tends to send us all into our places for a little while and, when you live together, you see this happen, but don’t talk about it – maybe because by the time we get around to talking about it, it’s all passed and done and there’s this great celebration and reunion that surrounds those first early warm days, where we work out of our own little holes and say hello to our neighbors and remember the places we go to from here.
We did spend one night around the fire, a storm had passed and things had warmed up a bit and the evening even had a bit of a sunset for a change after a week of endless rain and snow. I guess those are the times when we find out we’re each in our place but its OK.
“Looks like the roof’s gonna hold for another year,” Dan said, if nothing more than to break a silence that was crawling around the woodstove.
“Yeah it’s been getting a pretty good test,” I yawned out from my slouched poise on the kitchen chair.
“What if god were the grain of the universe?” Dan said this staring at the woodstove as if he were reading off some page inscribed on the hot metal.
“What?” replied Janet. “Where’d that come from?”
“I think I see what you’re saying, Dan.” Now I knew where he was at. “Like a piece of wood, the grain is pervasive.” Now he had me going.
“Yeah, and its more than just a physical texture of pattern, it directs every aspect of the cosmos.” Dan went on. “So if we say that god is all about love, then that can be a reflection of the grain.” Now he looked over to us to make his point. “And if we think that god has a plan for all of us, then that’s just the grain, that’s the pattern that we can’t see because it’s too big or too… something.”
“I still want to know what’s outside of that grain” Janet said. “You still haven’t been able to tell me what holds that piece of wood.”
“That’s where our feeble minds can’t get to. We want everything to be within everything and that’s what we go looking for and that’s what we find.” Dan replied, now almost emphatic.
“So maybe if we stop looking for what’s outside of what we have, then we can really see the true grain of the cosmos and know god.” I said this with a kind of half-joking finality, but in a way it made sense.
Now Dan’s eyes lit up, “Yeah, I think it’s something like that.” Then he went back to studying the side of the woodstove and we lapsed back into our evening quiet. That was one such time when we knew the places we were all at.