Held still much lately? Wish you could more often? I do. It’s an abiding passion of mine. And a challenge.
I was the tomboy sentenced to regular “sitting lessons” on my father’s lap. Gripped in Dad’s brawny, freckled arms, a featherweight could only flail so long.
Now I see enforced waiting was meant as a gift. Dad’s discipline established a baseline for social poise through quieter physicality, leaving my mind free to swing through the trees of imagination. To this day my thoughts flit, like the butterfly in overdrive hunting nectar or the rebound of that next silken petal, bobbing under its weight.
So here’s to the mercurial, slightly out-of-focus moment, not so long ago, when something intensely alive alighted on my hand:
My breath stuttered. The fingers inching my camera closer trembled, body on high alert . . .
as if each sense was a radar dish, registering color, weight, movement. Texture. And something else, harder to name, and as fleeting as the shadow of an antennae across my belly (which I would only see later, on playback, after the creature had risen and wafted aloft).
In a moment like this, surroundings dim, attention telescopes on sensation. Have you felt it?
Six multi-jointed legs the size of an eyelash taste with their feet, and when they traverse the human palm, they stab, like a mosquito, or Tom Thumb plying a micro-jeweler’s saw against the skin.
By comparison, I’m huge. How is it that something weighing in at less than one-fifth of an ounce has the muscle to alter my day? My outlook?
Even now, looking back on the photo of that brief encounter, I can ignore how old and homely my hands look; relive, instead, being “tasted,” tattooed by the wild.
“How many are your works, O Lord!” the Psalmist wrote. “In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures . . . living things both large and small” (Ps. 104:24, 25b).
The sudden sting of truth: arresting. Evanescent. On that day, beauty sought me out. My part was to sit quietly, take it in.