I am unsettled today. Between the pauses in snowfall, briskly three-dimensional and aloof, I sense a strange lag inside my own skin. Just now, I feel foreign to my space in the world. I am weary of winter and the gray concoctions that inhabit seemingly every second. I find myself longing for more than just the temporal warmth and spring and rebirth of earth and its mavens. The snow is blowing parallel to the ground, north to south, and is as dense as I’ve ever seen in these southern United States. The only green color within my vantage point is the small cluster of longleaf pines across the avenue, now hosting small pockets of cold.
I find myself longing for more than these slow, sublime, occasionally frustrating days I lead, longing toward peace and rest, longing away from here and now, away from encumbered toil and aimless labors. Just outside the coffee shop window, a man is digging at the ground, shoveling away mud and dirt from a trench. The paved concrete has been ripped away, surely the result of a busted water pipe, revealing long-hidden and compacted soil and a slow trickle of water. All the while snow floats about, coating the worker and his tools in a baptism of sorts. The pines collect it in their tendrils. It stockpiles atop cars. The earth tends to take such reckless actions. The world is, after all, subject to heaven from whence originates its own christening. Occasionally, I take notice of such occurrences of blessing being bestowed upon the most unlikely subjects. To see it inside a religious sanctuary is one thing altogether expected, but to witness it on the urban concrete of the city is quite another, rather unexpected and most welcome. Sun shimmering through the parted clouds, humanity wheeling and whirling about, the wet painting of falling snow and rain: all the Good and Remembering grace.
I would wish to be settled, to be at peace with this skin I am given, to pause and recognize that my being foreign to this world is not necessarily all that terrible a thing. For however long I yearn for tomorrow, however deeply I long for rebirth, however fearful or comfortable I am with myself is, in some small measure, an entrenched and guttural hope that God continues to prepare a place at his festival table for the slow and peculiar creatures we are, and the blessings we both unknowingly bestow and undeservedly receive amid all our faith and lack thereof.
Eric Peters, affectionately called “Pappy” by those who love him, is the grand old curmudgeon of the Rabbit Room. But his small stature and often quiet presence belie a giant talent. He’s a songwriter of the first order, and a catalogue of great records bears witness to it. His last album, Birds of Relocation, blew minds and found its way onto “year’s best” lists all over the country. When he’s not painting, trolling bookstores, or dabbling in photography, he’s touring the country in support of his latest record, Far Side of the Sea.