Chapter One: Epiphany
Saturday January 11, 2014
Head still on his pillow, he opened his eyes and watched the snow falling through the pines. The world was hushed, cold and beautiful as the snow piled up on the balcony immediately outside his upstairs bedroom. It was almost as if he could hear the falling flakes. Could he actually hear the snow falling, he wondered? The huge, fluffy flakes replaced the sounds of the world and the city he was born in a half century ago.
Through the glass doors, the beauty of the perfectly pristine white snow against the emerald green pine boughs encroaching on the upstairs deck transfixed him as the snow began to accumulate on the wooden bannister and the pines started to bow under the weight. The morning light was transformed into something ethereal, heavenly even, as the snowfall picked up intensity.
No, he decided, it wasn’t that he could actually hear the snowfall – it was the absence of the usual sounds of a Saturday morning that was different. The snow was a perfect negative audio complement, like natural noise-cancelling headphones to the usual sounds of traffic and the normal Saturday morning din of the two-story split level home he shared with his wife and four children.
Outside, beyond the view from his pillow, the rolling horse pasture was dotted with soaring oaks that stretched to the now leaden skies – the century-old trees forming a natural cathedral at least as beautiful as any built by the 2000-plus year old Church to which he belonged and believed. Over the hill and to the north, the bell tower of St. Bernard of Clairvaux parish could just be glimpsed, modestly hiding most of itself from his gaze.
Though his neighborhood was relatively new – his 3500 square foot South Tulsa home was reminiscent of a ski chalet and would have fit in perfectly in Aspen or Snowmass or Taos -- the parish church itself had been there for nearly 90 years, having originally been constructed as a Catholic reformatory for wayward girls, and therefore purposely located far, far from the carnal temptations of Roaring Twenties Oil-boom Tulsa.
The intervening decades had seen the city stretch itself to the south, many many miles from its original founding under the Council Oak of the Creek Indians, who settled the area in the 1870’s on a hill above where the Arkansas River bent and flowed south, and now the beautiful, tree-laden city enveloped the forested hills of South Tulsa County which had only a few decades prior seen the gentility of thoroughbred farms equal to the finest in Bluegrass Kentucky.
Though the burgeoning city now surrounded them, there were still, here and there, a picturesque barn or two where pampered and expensive equines were pastured in proximity to their equally privileged owners and the little girls whose doting parents practiced law or medicine in order to afford them. It was a wonderful world – a world full of grace, a world of ease and comfort, and of beauty.
And so he watched, never moving from his pillow – just watching and appreciating both the audio as well as visual beauty unfolding before his now fully-opened eyes. Bonum, verum, pulchrum, he thought to himself for at least the hundredth time. And for the barest, briefest scintilla of a moment, he began to smile.
But then he remembered.
She was gone.