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Here is the next installment of Landscape With Figures, the unpublished manuscript of my grandmother, Beatrice Allen Page:

” When I woke up a little later than usual this morning, there were already floccules of shell-pink and mauve and dove-gray scattered loosely over the pale sky above the ocean, and through my east window I could see coral and luminous gold streaks just above the spot where the sun was due to appear.

A few minutes later I watched a fiery red sun blaze above the horizon. I could only keep my eyes on it for a second at a time as it rose higher and turned to burning gold. Its rays slanted through the pines, gilding the tips of the needles. Whenever a current of air stirred the branches, the spider threads slung between the twigs were revealed by the tiny hyphens of slippery light that shuttled back and forth on the invisable filaments. Down by the edge of the field the leaves of the poplars looked like thousands of shining coins tossed into the air. Everywhere I looked there was a radiance and freshness.

I wished with all my heart there were someone I could thank for it. Gratitude unfocused and unexpressed is almost painful, like a lump in the throat when you hold back tears.

My mind began to play over all the other beauty I have been privileged to enjoy this summer, not only the beauty of earth and sea and sky, but the beauty – and the truth and the goodness and the love – I have seen in human beings. I thought of Mr. Hollis’s utter simplicity and artlessness. I thought of the little girls painting sand dollars with pure delight. I thought of Dr. Rosenblum’s devotion to music and his wife’s devotion to him. I thought of hte look in Laura’s eyes when she said, ‘I love each and every one of my children with my whole heart!’ I thought of that crystal-clear morning when I was sitting down on the ledges and could almost…almost see through the invisible veil…

And suddenly it struck me with amazement and chagrin that I was not unlike the oldest Peabody sister, Elizabeth, who bumped into a tree when walking across Boston Common and explained, ‘I saw it but I did not realize it.’

How could I have seen evidence of God all about me and not have realized it, I wondered. The answer came at once, clearly, and to my dismay: Because I didn’t want to realize it. It was not that I could not believe in God, but that I did not want to. I still don’t want to. I am afraid of what it may reveal to me about myself. I am afraid of finding I have been living in the dark and may be blinded by the light, like the people in Plato’s cave. I am afraid of being called upon to make sacrifices. I don’t want to give up the directing of my own life, my own egoism, my pride and little vanities, my independence. I hate the word ‘obedience.’

I shall not give up without a struggle. It is only late morning as I write this, but combat fatigue is already beginning to set in.”

 

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