We have a good elderly neighbor in his late 70s. To be blunt about it, “good” because we are his favorite recipients of KitKat and Hershey’s chocolate bars out of the balikbayan box from his distant wife living in the West Coast. As I was writing this around 8:45pm, he suddenly appeared unnoticed by our screened door, lights off from the outside, jolting me a bit as he handed some sweet special espasol with a Christmas greeting card. It’s one of those payoffs of neighborly exchange of pranks (including “green” ones) and our basic course is to tease him with one of our neighbor’s househelpers who also has a bag of buffoneries that vary from texting him when he’s off to the province that Meralco is cutting off his electricity for his non-payment to texting his daughter telling her there’s no need to buy a bucket of chicken from KFC for their dinner. It’s fun to have Lolo around. It’s fun to have everyone around in the neighborhood – our prankster gets louder as we gather over Coke or corn bits.
But there’s something poetic and philosophical that Lolo does almost everyday, even if he does this matter-of-factly. Often, I wake up earlier than Lolo whose house is just across the street. Without forcing my focus, Lolo’s habit often gets my attention – he would crane his neck to check some yellow leaves of their two 15-foot lanzones fruit trees, the only tree in front of their house. Then he would shake those trees as strongly as he can that I could hear its rustling. Ready to fall or not, those yellow leaves either cave in or stubbornly hang on. Then Lolo repeats the ritual either during midafternoon when he is alone or in the evening after dinner.
Where’s the poetry? What’s philosophical about “shaking trees”?
I am leaving the answers to your hunch.
But relevant to an end-of-the-year recollection, I am finding comfort out of the poetic mystery of “shaking trees” from some lines of the farmer-writer Wendell Berry:
What stood, whole in every piecemeal
Thing that stood, will stand though all
Fall – field and woods and all in them
Rejoin the primal Sabbath’s hymn.
During the last hour of 2011, I pray there will be silence in a little corner of our house because I intend to rejoin what “stood whole” during the year into its own Sabbath. I existed, warts and all, and then the wholeness of my existence passes, falls like yellow leaves, dies to the memory of the Earth but charged with hope to rise after the last hour of the year when 2012 begins. As another year dies to rest, another new year is born. Blessed be God for this mystery!
Happy New Year to you…