A crumbling sanctuary of dawn-lit leaves

The east window of my study looks out through a scrim of trees to the neighbor’s golf-green yard and the street and, further on, a young wood of mostly pines. The trees close by appear only as vertical trunks, their leaves cropped out by the window’s frame, but a dogwood leans out low from their shadow and shelters the view with its foliage. For a few short weeks in early fall, when the leaves of the dogwood blushed but still clung to their limbs, the morning light set their edges glowing red-gold, and past their brilliant outlines I could see only the fuzzy blue-green shadow of distant pines. The study became a sanctuary enfolded by copper light, beyond which the world was made misty, unfocused, irrelevant.

That effect lasted only an hour each morning and for two or three weeks. By mid-morning the sun had climbed high enough to light the leaves of the backdrop woods; by the second week of October the dogwood’s leaves had thinned and let the world through in too much clarity. The sanctuary is crumbling now, and what remains is only a relic, like the cracked foundations of an ancient church now open to air and birdflight, in which I sit wondering if God really lived here once.

I got a lot of work done during those weeks.