There are times in our lives when we are pushed to the very edge, right up against it.
I know at least five people who are struggling to find equanimity right now. Five who are witnessing loved (or less-loved) ones as they transit toward the edge of life, closer toward death than we may be though who knows, really. These five are doing their very best to weather the storms erupting, as the edge of passing draws nearer.
This post is for you lot. Actually it’s for all of us, in times like these. In this holiday season, when lots of people are happy. And lots are only fleetingly so. And lots not at all.
This is for you, explorers at the edge right now.
Not long ago, NOVA aired this amazing show about “sprites.” When an especially big bolt of lightning strikes down, these ultra-fast bursts of energy bounce up into the earth’s upper atmosphere. Sixty-three miles up, where the ionosphere meets deep space.
Pilots reported seeing sprites for years. Their accounts were disbelieved, rejected. Existing theory couldn’t figure how electricity could travel up, with no apparent connection to complete the circuit.
Now more is known about the upper atmosphere and, also, we have pictures to prove it.
This gives you the general idea of what sprites look like, but it is an impoverished one. Take an hour to watch the NOVA show, to admire this unearthly phenomenon as it happens in real time. To marvel at the ethereal beauty of these eerie and evanescent apparitions, blooming like sea-creatures and then vanishing in the blink of an eye.
Completing the circuit, into the hitherto-unseen and unknown mantle of electricity that circles the globe.
It’s understandable that many of us don’t want to hear or believe reports from the unknown. From the outer margins.
Why go there, unless we absolutely have to.
So these messengers who visit the margins and report back, to describe what the atmosphere is like out there, these seem most brave to me. They carry their news to us who, more likely than not, will not receive the signal. Especially in this holiday season, when the signal-to-noise ratio is deafening, when we racket along, unthinking, on our merry holiday course. Oblivious to where we’re all headed.
It’s hard to be heard. When there’s no assured connection to complete the circuit, it’s risky to speak.
Connection is everything, as Brené Brown says in this short and charming animation.
Peter Townsend, “Tommy”