512 Words

The Most Important Thing

M. Stanley Bubien

The most important thing I ever did? Surely, surely. But not born from a culture of dollars for sense, or desires seen and unseen. Instead, I sought to call forth something of person, of place---of power!

And so I returned to meditate. Back thrust against bark, gnarled by ages while towering to heights. In Latin, Pinus Torreyana, rarest of all ancient ones in this country I deemed home.

"Lord," I prayed as for an epithet. "Fill me here."

Afterward, I listened. Yet I heard only the silence of bark stretching, reaching, expanding like the body of a baby in growth.

And so I went. I sought volumes, pressed into parchment from the very core of which I so recently retreated. The pages spread before me, a veritable dictionary of meaning, an encyclopedia of knowledge. "Here," thought I, "my answer lies, for surely knowledge is power!"

Yet over lists and lists I pored, and though always named and defined, they conveyed merely words to me.

And so I returned to meditate.

My familiar waited, providing shade with branches bent from heavenward to touch the earth of their birth.

"Lord, this is too big," my lips begged to identify. "I cannot accomplish it alone."

Afterward, I listened. Yet only the silence of wind within branches answered, flailing them to and fro, to collide and part, like the arms of a newborn in rest.

And so I went. I turned to friends for counsel. They advised soulfully the truth of their person.

"This!" one offered.

I nodded to such wisdom.

"That!" another contradicted.

I nodded further.

Thus my visitations continued. Back and forth. Friend to friend. And forever, "this" opposing "that."

Finally, my head shook its foolishness.

And so I returned to meditate.

Again, I sought the selfsame spot, touched the resin of one pine rooted amidst hundreds.

"Lord," I asked for the clarity of a rubric. "Show me the way."

Afterward, I listened. But only silence replied, in the mists from the nearby sea, shushing a pall over the expanse of coniferous leaves, each tuft producing five needles, extending from a point like the fingers of a youth's hand.

And so I went.

But where? For failed had I now thrice. Nowhere to turn.

Nowhere but back.

And so I returned to meditate.

Curled within drying branches, resting upon needles spent and discarded, I bowed, though held by solid bark.

"Lord, give me rest," I despaired for the designation. "For I have proven unworthy." But I awoke with a pinecone dropping from the reaches, free-fall subdued by levels of needles, thumping finally into a bed of sand, resting there, cradled within the arms of its mother.

And so I stayed. Wind, sea, sand. Different voices, yet spoken through this ancient personage who guarded my sacred place like a tower, more powerful even than the decades. "Yes!" my tongue christened, "Victory!"

And so I went.

I grasped my wife in her agony, held through to joy. When the cry came, and the child laid in mother's arms, "Torrey," we pronounced, "her name shall be."

For Torrey Stasia Bubien. Born 11:26pm, September 1st, 1998.

Copyright ©1998 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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October, 1998
Issue #30

512 Words