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August 25, 2011
People's well-meant inquiries about our moving house have long since become tedious. Real estate brings out the worst in most of us as it is, and that's when you don't spend months mired in the details of a deal that seems uninterested in moving either back or forth. Because our new house is close to our old one, we have been able to move small things gradually -- which we have done, in the mistaken belief that "gradual" was same thing as "easy." It is not: better the paroxysmal dislocating of everything in a single anguished weekend than the Chinese water torture in which we are now engaged. Remind me to do with this next house what I always said I was going to do with our current one: depart it in a body bag.

You can tell I'm in a sour mood. Let's talk about something else.

People from California are sneering at our earthquake. They think we're making a mountain out of a molehill. This, although the National Cathedral in Washington -- theirs and ours, after all -- sustained significant damage. I myself felt nothing, having been on the train when the earthquake hit. My little grandson napped right through it, his terrified mother alone with him on the sixth floor of their swaying apartment building. I suppose you get used to things like that -- Californians say you do, that they have fifty or sixty seismic events like this every year and think nothing of it, or maybe it was five hundred. A lot, anyway.

I seem not to have cheered up in any meaningful way. Maybe the earthquake was the wrong conversational path to take.

We have a hurricane coming. We declined flood coverage on our homeowners' policy recently, as we are miles from any body of water. But I forgot about Tommy's Pond, which measures .4 acres stem to stern and is NATURAL -- which means it's fed from some subterranean something not under the control of the Metuchen Public Works Department. And I forgot about the NATURAL spring over in Roosevelt Park, which also comes from somewhere out of our control, some innocent-looking stream lying in wait for just such a storm as the one that whirls towards us now. These streams swell to Biblical proportions in seconds, inundating streets in sitting duck towns just like ours. What seemed impossible before now appears likely. I should call the insurance broker this afternoon.

No, that's not doing it, either.

Death is a better topic. All of the above are really about it anyway. Life is short -- even long life, long by human standards, ninety-plus and more-- even such a life is over in a moment. Look back fifty years, if you can. Long time? It isn't for me, either, not compared to how luxuriously it stretched out before us when we hadn't lived it yet. Time is elastic, and it is also a matter of perception. It is relative to the position of whoever is experiencing it. And God doesn't have it.

History is held in God's hand, but God is not held by it. WE are, or we think we are, while we live in the world, and we calendar everything -- including that release from the grip of time which we call death. Oh, we say, that was before my mother died, because I remember she was there, or Oh, that was before President Kennedy was shot, or after my husband, after my sister, before Susan down the street died. How long do I have, Doc? We consult the clock as if it were real.

And sometimes it is -- usually, in fact, here under the sun, although we get occasional hints that there is more to it than we think: in the anachronistic world of dreams, in those moments when time seems to stand still or even move backwards, leaving us puzzled but grateful. No time. No duration. An existence larger than this one, which holds this one, cradles it.

We get an occasional glimpse, so rare that we are apt to discount it. Not so fast, though. Others have seen glimpses, too. "For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.". --I Corinthians 13:12
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