Close to the mystery


It was my friend Lacy Crawford who recently used the expression “close to the mystery,” and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.  Close to that gossamer boundary between worlds, fo which I wrote years ago, close to births and deaths and transitions.  For some reason I think often of the scene with Sirius in Harry Potter where he passes between worlds (trying to be oblique here so as not to spoil this for anyone) … it’s magical and ineffable and beautiful and tragic at the same time.

Like life.

Close to the mystery.  Yes.  Lately I’ve been feeling awfully close to the mystery.  There have been joyful births and startling deaths which remind me of how brief, how golden, how fleeting and how fragile is our time on this earth.  There have been medical questions and scares and then reprieve, but the fears remind me, again, how faint the border is between what we know and disaster.  Of the fact that we’re all one phone call from our knees.

Maybe it’s this darkness that I sense around the edges of the most ordinary days that gives the light its texture, though.  I just read Heidi Julavits’ beautiful The Folded Clock and gasped out loud when I read “to be melancholy is to be self-haunted.”  Perhaps we all have ghosts within us, and for some people that haunting feels visceral, real, unavoidable, close, eerie but also, naturally, it highlights the beauty of our lives.

Maybe it’s the after-effects of vertigo, or maybe it’s this time of year, which always reminds me in a powerful, inescapable way of the earth’s ceaseless turning, but it feels these days like my hand is on the pulse of the universe’s magic.  I can feel the thrum of the universe under my palm, under my feet, in my every moment.  Sometimes this awareness if exhausting, if I’m honest, and I find myself snappier with my family then usual and more tired (though my midlife seasonal allergies may also have something to do with that).

As always, in this season of commencement, of endings wrapped around beginnings, I think of Adlai Stevenson’s famous commencement address, and of these lines in particular:

Your days are short here; this is the last of your springs. And now in the serenity and quiet of this lovely place, touch the depths of truth, feel the hem of Heaven.

And so I do, walking through the haze of pollen and magnolias and memories towards the inevitable goodbyes of early June, surrounded by graduation caps and gowns, sensing the mystery all around me.  The truth of this life’s fleeting and brutal gorgeousness is so echoingly loud around me I can’t hear anything else.  Something presses in on me from all sides, and sometimes I brush past heartbreak like skirting close by something unknown in the darkness.  The pulse of this mystery is the rhythm of our lives.  Mine, at least.

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  1. Posted May 18, 2015 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Lindsey, if I wasn’t feeling traces of it already, this post would have brought me right to the lip of this magical realm, the everyday edged with darkness. Sometimes I willfully ignore it, if only to get through my days in peace, someday I miss it entirely due to the chaos of my young children, but June brings it back for me, the month of endings and beginnings. The shift between seasons. My mother’s decline began in earnest in mid June and she died on the first day of summer, a week before my birthday. So here I am, on the cusp of the month I used to dread, but also welcome, because the closer I am to the pain of memory, the closer I am to my mom.

    Thank you for sharing the rawness and beauty of your sensitivity here.

  2. Kirsten
    Posted May 18, 2015 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    This is, I’m quite sure, my favorite piece of yours that I’ve ever read. (And I’ve been reading a *long* time. 🙂 What you’ve written is so very very close to my heart & to my experience. I think the more we’re able to live close to the mystery – all year, not just in this season of in-between where I also experience it so keenly – the more able we are to stay astounded by this gift we call life.

    admin Reply:

    Oh, thank you, thank you. Yes. Exactly – it hurts to live with the mystery thrumming through me, to be honest, but I do think it’s worth it. xox

  3. Posted May 18, 2015 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    “or maybe it’s this time of year, which always reminds me in a powerful, inescapable way of the earth’s ceaseless turning, but it feels these days like my hand is on the pulse of the universe’s magic.”

    Yes. I know exactly what you mean.

    admin Reply:

    I knew you would 🙂 xoxox

  4. CC
    Posted May 18, 2015 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Lindsey. Your writing today is so ethereal, yet filling. Hard to articulate, but very satisfying and recognizable. –Another Cantabrigian

    admin Reply:

    thank you so much – I really, really appreciate that. ox

  5. Posted May 18, 2015 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Sobbing, because yes. Today, I said good bye to a dear friend of mine. Cancer and gone within 6 months of diagnosis. I am heartbroken, and I read this, and the sweet catharsis of released tears. Thank you.

    admin Reply:

    I am so sorry for your loss. xoxo