Ripple Effect

I wake in pre-dawn darkness. The cicadas, finally, are asleep. I, however, am not. Which is why I cannot help but get out of bed and write the sentence that swirls around in my brain. It’s the lead-in to an article I’ve been procrastinating and because I am still emotionally hung over from the weekend, my brain is on overdrive (a true sign of my difficulties relaxing). I get 650 words and a Carolina Wren tap-tap-taps along the windowsill. Dawn.

The rest of the day is hazy and touched by a twinge of sorrow for the recent loss of life. I walk in the door at 8pm, the end of a long day, and there is a message to come gather with old friends at the boarding school. A few who flew across the country and from far north and south to come to the memorial service are still around. They want to have a bonfire. They want to sing. They suggest the stars. I drop my bags and turn right back around, heading down the road and across the river to join them.

Some former students are there too, and together we all sing dozens of songs we know by heart from living at the school over years past. We’re in an open field surrounded by rhododendron and hemlock on two sides, a gravel road on the other two sides. The sky arches above us like a giant soup bowl, the Big Dipper ladelling out stars one flicker at a time. The cicadas rival our voices and fill the silences between songs. Someone suggests that we sing Jerry Garcia’s song “Ripple” and we all reminisce that the song is a favorite of Sherrill’s husband’s. There is some gentle laughter, then a pause, then suddenly a huge, orange streak across the sky.

Wow. There it is. The biggest shooting star I’ve seen in a decade.

Two minutes later we are on the second go-round of the chorus to “Ripple” and Sherrill’s husband materializes from the dark field and sits around our campfire. The moment is sanctified by this coincidence – or glimmer of greater presence – and despite the exhaustion, despite that we all miss her, despite, despite, despite – we sing for hours and share stories and at last call, we close with a second round of “Ripple.”


Check out the new links on the left hand side of the page…Until I can afford my own webpage, I’ll be posting recent publication links on the blog.

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