*Alternate* Second Reading: A reading from River Teeth by David James Duncan

This passage concludes a story about a rainy, dreary autumn day in a long stretch
of rainy, dreary autumn days in Oregon:  Gretchen, a neighbor of the storyteller,
has come by to pick up some dry kindling wood.  The wood is chopped and in her
trunk, they each go their ways.

… I slouch off toward the … house, hear a gasp down the driveway, turn to see
that Gretchen hasn’t yet to climb into her car—and that she is radiant.  Her face
has bloomed.  When she points, agape, toward the meadow behind me, I realize
I’ve been listening for some time, to a strange thrumming in that direction.

I turn.

And were it night, and were we shepherds, we might have dropped to our knees
in the face of such beauty.  But, things being as they are, we just walk,
rubberbooted toward it, drawn like oil through a wick up into a burning lantern
that makes sudden, perfect sense of the valley’s dark rain-washed gray.  The
beauty thrums, allows our approach, turns to and fro, thrums louder.  We are
nearly upon it before it moves.  And though it is a hundred beings, two hundred
wings, that rise up before us, it is one deft gesture that pierces the rain: one mind,
cleaving the whole dark valley, as the hundred sun-bright goldfinches rise from
the dead brown yarrow.

The words of David James Duncan.

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