What is happiness? According to Mary Oliver, not a town on a map or a point of arrival, but good work, ongoing. Eternal work part of that great current of things which shall be established. Hope that the work of our hands is not in vain - it is only because of this we are able to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
There is the satisfaction of the moment in desire-fulfilled, it is sweet but does not last. Then there is hope, singing from the bottom of your soul, singing things like faith, like light, like love, even when the world is woe-ridden and profligate in tragedy. Even, too, when you have the eyes to see tragedy and you are no audience member merely to weep but Ophelia stricken mad by the unsettling of it. Tip the world and shake the goodness out of it - can that bird still sing?
I thought not, couldn't fathom it. Despair is its own madness, happiness and rest flung far out of fathomable reach and you a swimmer in choppy seas.
Settle my heart, O great God, in Thee, the settled one, unmoved mover, Father of lights. Father of lights - what a name for the creator of a world in which shadows provide definition and we live half our lives in the darkness of night. How much of my life do I sleep away?
How does the light fall, what does it say? Soft wrinkles in the white down comforter, shining cheap wood, mutely gleaming in the morning, slats casting lines on everything else behind them.
What do you see? If Annie Dillard is right, and what you see is what you get, our life is a wild treasure hunt in which we learn to search the treasures with which the world is planted. Innocent Smith goes all the way round the earth to find the treasure of his home again.
Perhaps we do not have because we do not ask, or we've had all along and just couldn't see it. It is the obvious things which elude our grasp. Life is a tale told four million times of a rich man who thought he was poor, because he didn't know what treasure looked like.
Traherne tells me I am an heiress and the whole world is mine. Standing on a mountain with the rain falling lightly around me, I believe him. It is a danger to confuse metaphors. Until you spoke, I thought to love the world, with all its extravagant grace and beauty, was to lose it. How not to love this place so exorbitant in its offerings, so lavish in its presents? And I grew afraid and fear tempted me to avert my eyes, dare not unto seeing visions. There you thundered in, unexpected, with five sweet words -
"I am the beautiful thing."
and the world became again my palace and playground, my friend, solace, rest and teacher. All along I have been and am learning to love you. Who else could give so bewilderingly an array of such absurdity, this smattering in excess detail, lavish enormity, delight with terror in it and cruelty with strange grace? Only you, sweet Father of lights. Glory be.