Like something dropped on me, so sudden does it hit, stopping me there in the center of the path, in the mute light, shards of ice catching sparks from the hiding sun, black branches, a horizon where the snow and the sky meet and weave together and become one another. And I am filled with it, the suddenness of it — transubstantiation.
It doesn’t matter that I am here, on the path, and not at Mass. It doesn’t matter that the dogs sniff the undergrowth and I worry about my father. It doesn’t matter, any of it. It will be fine.
They hit me, these small epiphanies, in surprising ways. They always have. I had no words for them before, and few enough words now. I simply stand and wait, absorbing it — the knowing, the calm. I could die like this. There is another side — but that is the wrong word, side. As though there really is one place, and another, or one time, and another. Opposites. Bifercation. They are constructs. Words cannot say.
My mother’s head spilled light when she was dying. I dreamed of beautiful nothingness and came back through flaming embers. Those moments, those memories that are more than memories, stop me dead. They return and return. If I had been born and raised Catholic, I would be a nun.
Old Girl’s reference to Martin Luther King’s experience on the bench when he was tired of fighting, a time when God spoke to him, followed me all day yesterday. I have carried with me the moment on the path last weekend, that sudden, knee-buckling realization that is pain and ecstasy at once. There is no difference between the two, in the end. Martin Luther King heard God speaking to him. I hear no words. There is no grand light, no operatic music. Just that moment, repeated and repeated. Mum’s head spilling light, the rich earth spilling through my fingers in Ireland, the rising up and up and then falling into emptiness of my strange moments as a 10-year-old in Ireland. Kuan Yin and Teresa of Avila spin in the clouds, touch fingers and dissolve. Nada is my beautiful emptiness. I tell Mum of my dream. “I know,” she says. “I’m not afraid.”
The light in her head flickers, and fades. I am the only one who sees it — Mum and I alone in the house that afternoon — but the heron is for all of us. I do not fear dying.