The world is so good, because nothing good is lost.
When I walk into work, getting ready to teach in The College, I see his olive tree: Alfred Geier. He taught me the dialectic, the need to listen, to persuade myself that following the Logos where He leads is good and necessary. This journey does not turn out where I wish, but it is the only way that makes sense. There are other memorial olive trees for other stories and other saints. I pass them, these new trees, and know the trees as symbols of their eternal presence. These trees, rooted in the Earth, pointing to heaven, alive, are windows to reality.
If you can only see a new tree, I pray for you. This is like the man that cannot see the flag in the courtyard and see more than a piece of polyester or the person who sees the icon of Saint Constantine and can only kiss a piece of wood. The flag is full of the memories of heroes, failures, and the promise of justice. The icon is a window to Heaven where the City of God is kept in safety for all time.
I am reminded that the metaphysical air is thick, full of the righteous dead watching us as a great cloud of witnesses. They pray for us. The angels, devils, and whatever other beings may exist in our complicated cosmos go about their tasks. Some hate us. Others defend us. Many may have little or no awareness of what we are doing today, but I am most glad for the righteous dead. They have gone ahead and as surely as we have not forgotten them, they have not failed us. They are witnesses to the times from the vantage point of eternity.
The hard challenge came, has been met, and now they cheer us onward and upward.
This year the School will perform The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and I am reminded of Uncle Roddy. He was cast to be Aslan in a play I was directing with Aunt Karen. He never spoke a line, because this bluff, healthy, hearty man was dead before the play was done. My job was to fill in for his role. Now Aunt Karen has gone ahead and the play will happen again. We have a better director and my only job will be cheering on better actors than I ever was. This will be sad, but not only sad, because they will be there. Uncle Roddy, who always reminded me of King Smoit, will be there enjoying the play and praying for the actors. Aunt Karen, who taught me so much, will be there, cheering for any young actor who can be heard!
We ring an old bell every day, calling all to prayer, and invoking old heroes. Old Charlie Arms comes ready to save another train wreck in this dangerous time. The air is thick with metaphysical reality.
I go and sit in the Prayer Garden and there is a tree to the memory of Phillip E. Johnson, the College’s personal Gandalf. On the day before he died, he was looking ahead to a national network of K-16 Orthodox Schools and College programs. I am sure he is fighting for us today.
What makes me thankful?
I am thankful that the simplest intake of air is full of beauty: staggering physical beauty. I am thankful that the air is also full of metaphysical reality. All that is good remains good and endures. The temporal, the bad, falls away and all is constantly being made new.
We are becoming like God, always becoming in the light of God’s Being. Nana, Papaw, Granny, Papaw: they are not gone, but more here than I am.