A Loose Affiliation
The rest of the day, Saturday, was filled with wandering and wading and listening. Mid-days are like that at RockyGrass; mellow and meandering and sweet.
By now the sun was low enough that the tent next to our blankets and wagons cast enough shadow that we could return to them, while the riverside picked up the remainder of the setting sunlight as it bounced off the red sandstone cliffs, and turned it to gold. I was warm and drowsy, so I leaned against one of the wagons and closed my eyes, letting the sounds around me take solid shape. As I drifted between waking and sleeping, I could hear kids laughing and playing outside the family tent, and conversations from ten feet away clearly, as clearly as the band playing on stage yards and yards away. Everything came into my ears at the same volume and pace, and I floated and watched the sounds and listened to the music. It was as restful as setting my feet onto the smooth rocks in the river and watching the cold water wash away their pain, as restful as the rich green smell of leaf and mud and water that wrapped around me like loving arms when I sat on the banks.
We ate in shifts, feeding the kiddos, and waited for that night’s big performance – Steve Earle. O and Clowncar were particularly enthused. We decided to get closer to the stage; it’s all general admission, with tents in the back, chairs and blankets and what-have-you toward the stage. Clowncar found an abandoned spot along one of the ‘aisles’ – a broad strip of grass – and we all sat down. By now, it was getting dark, and the first stars were appearing when Steve took the stage.
I was lying back on someone’s inner tube, absorbing the music. I have no idea who the inner tube belonged to, but it was ok. It’s that kind of a place.
I was lying back, Jack asleep on my lap all warm and cuddly, and I was watching the stars. Pondering their distance, their age.
I was thinking about how the starlight we see is already in the past, about how we can’t remember our pasts in their entirety, but only little scenes, little impressions, bright as stars against the dark matter of every minute we’ve passed through, and that the way we remember our childhood is by connecting those memories, to form a shape like a constellation against the sky.
Then I thought about how absurd it is to believe that we matter at all in all this matter, that God should take any interest, that there should even be a God to take interest. It made perfect, clear sense to me then that we are on our own here. Looking at all that broad dark night, I was convinced.
About that time, Steve Earle started talking about God and sin and right and wrong and eternal rewards and punishments, depending on our actions right here, right now.
And then I thought he was probably as right about it all as I was.
Back in our tent at the campsite that night, I listened as the wind picked up…and up…and up. And by morning, well…