The fire is still burning

We spent our Saturday at the Lemay Auto Museum in Tacoma.  My husband has always loved old cars, and I get a kick out of taking pictures of them, so this is one of those rare activities that we both enjoy.

The museum has several floors of cars on display, and there just happened to be a vintage motorcycle gathering on the lawn outside the museum, so my husband was pretty happy with the day.

I enjoyed myself as well, but I knew the minute I snapped this picture that I'd gotten what I came for.  Not that I'll probably ever try to sell this image -- it's just that most of the photos I took were merely record shots.  You know the kind: they give you something to remember the moment -- I was here, I saw this, it was cool.

But this, for me, was more than that: somehow, for me, it captures style, the essence of an era, suggesting glamor, and grace, wealth, and beauty, elegance, attention to detail, and -- in the slight rumpling of the chrome strip on the left -- a sense of sadness that these days are over, that we will never quite achieve this particular standard of perfection again.

And don't you love coincidences?  So I wrote this, posted this image, and thought -- what possible spiritual significance could this have?  Oh, well, I'll go have my coffee and meditate; see if something emerges.

So I got my cup of coffee, opened to the next page in my reading of Thomas Merton's The Way of Chuang Tzu, and here is what I read:

"The Master came at his right time
Into the world.  When his time was up,
He left it again.
He who awaits his time, who submits
When his work is done,
In his life there is no room
For sorrow or for rejoicing.
Here is how the ancients said all this
In four words:
     'God cuts the thread.'

We have seen a fire of sticks
Burn out.  The fire now
Burns in some other place.  Where?
Who knows?  These brands
Are burnt out."

Isn't that amazing?  So now I see that the photo and my thoughts around it are in fact a perfect opportunity for understanding this passage, for comprehending the mysteries of life and death and continuity, to express my all-too-human response to loss, and to be reminded, once again, of that passage from Job "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Yes, God cuts the thread.  But the fire is still burning, just in some other place.


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