Desert Wind

A picture can become prayer – just look at icons, illuminations, countless paintings.  But can you take a picture of prayer?  No, I don’t think so.   

palmtree1cropI wanted to take a picture of the palm tree outside the San Antonio house where I lived with my then husband and our two oldest children who were little in the late 70’s.  The house held many memories, joyful, revelatory, puzzling, grotesque.   This visit, I was not interested in the house – those kinds of memories adjust with times and outcomes – children grow up, friends die or move somewhere else or disappear into another social sphere.  Oddly, the memory of prayer remains in the moment.

I drove to the old house last Wednesday evening on the first evening of my visit to San Antonio. The tree was gone.  I found one like it on another street to listen to, to take a picture of.  

I used to pray the air of San Antonio – the quality so different from any place I’d ever lived before or since – warm, alive, an icon of the Holy Spirit making music in dry branches.  I walk in the reddish twilight, a nearly full moon muting the stars and  illuminating the rushing clouds, the wind rattling the giant magnolia leaves with a sound like turning pages of a book.   That warm wind off the deserts beyond the city, ruach, the timeless breath of G-d embraces my fragile flesh –  the same as it was when I was young, the same as it was before the San Antonio missions, the same as it was before any human habitation.   Prayer, unlike the swiftly moving clouds and swiftly passing time-bound lives,  prayer “so ancient and so new” remains in the moment, just outside the flat chronological-plane, waiting for an open soul to serenade.

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