Jam and English Muffins
English muffin halves, toasted crisp, with butter and blackberry jam. When I wake up irrevocably at one-something o’clock in the morning, bladder bursting, feet tingling, back twisting, stomach chafing for food. I just know. I know that to wind back down I have first to wind up. The perfume of burnt bread wafts soothingly and intoxicatingly from the toaster. In sleepy waiting reverie, the harsh click of the popping-up startles. First the butter—used because it tastes richly divine, and why eat at all unless the food pleases?—then the blackberry jam—not too much—or maybe strawberry—I like to alternate. One smallish crispy bite of muffin. One sip of cold whole milk. Slowly. Savoring. One lamp lit to illuminate the book, and the fleece covering bare cold feet and other bare skin and undergarments. A bite and a swallow. Mmmm. Since I’m up anyway, awake and comfortable, enjoying a muffin for two minutes, I might as well read. Brian Doyle’s enchanting, funny, touching essays are right for this quiet moment and are just short enough and just long enough to finish with the last bite and sip. I read about hummingbird hearts the size of pencil erasers, and blue whale heart chambers the size of a room a man could walk through. I read of heart surgeries and the fear of loss and the pain of loss and the reconciliation to loss. I read of love and beauty and whimsey and the mystery of a loving soul. I read of how parents learn to live for their children, to see in their children the heights of heaven and the depths of anguished concern and the desperation of loss and the ephemeral and the letting go of what cannot ever be possessed or controlled. Or I read from the Bible: about Paul telling the Romans and Ephesians and Philippians and Colossians and Hebrews about that man Jesus, full of grace, the very Son God of the Father God, full of grace, full of truth and light. Or I read in the Book of Mormon about whole civilizations who turn from the God they know, turn intentionally away from him and his simple system for personal and societal peace and happiness—why would you reject what you know and love, all the truth and peace and light and joy, only to exterminate each other in a tempest of rage and blood and hate?—or the account of Jesus coming to them, descending, beaming his glory, radiating his light, his scarred palms outstretched for them all to feel and to witness forever, this Jesus come to teach and to correct, come to comfort and to heal, come to establish his order on earth. Finished with the food, and the word, I snuggle into the fleece and the couch and work to think big divine universal thoughts, but all I can achieve is to almost understand something bigger than this big small world, all I can manage is to almost feel by mental reaching touch the grand blinding serene Mind hanging out behind the veil of the infinite universe, that Creator, and the elegant laws of the cosmos and the evolutionary laws of life and DNA and of the amazing simple brilliant law of love, love one cannot measure on a scale, love one cannot reduce to an equation, love that is the greatest force in the universe for hope and for reformation and for redemption, love that allows forgiveness and invites a stretching reaching higher farther vaster than we thought possible… Sweet respite, this, these tangible almosts… Knowing I cannot ascend, yet, to where I wish, yet calmed and satisfied and inspired and touched, and fully awake, I know I can descend again now into sleep, and stay asleep until morning, though I do have to brush my teeth first.