Dance with the Daffodils | September 12, 2021 Essay

Sep 9, 2021

Have you ever given yourself permission to stop everything you are doing, including thinking itself, and simply be in the moment? The great mystics of the church were blessed with the capacity to totally empty themselves and be flooded with the presence of God. Their openness to a reality beyond themselves was effortless. They stopped, looked, and listened, and in that moment were transported to a place where the rhythm of their souls was at one with the beating of their hearts. But what about the rest of us, whose lives are cluttered with matters that are seemingly important or, more often than not, inconsequential? A moment of quiet seems to be an unattainable luxury if we want to prepare a meal, do the laundry, go to our workplace, or tend to a myriad of other daily demands on our time.

The poet William Wordsworth captured in his poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, a mystical moment that opens the door for us mere mortals to taste the experience of the great mystics. Surprisingly it is easier than we ever imagined and comes upon us in ordinary ways as the rhythm of those moments takes hold of us. Emptied of thoughts and liberated from the mundane routine of our lives we allow our memories to embrace us, and we dance with them.

For Wordsworth, a reminiscence of a solitary walk during which he, by chance, comes upon “a crowd /A host, of golden daffodils,” suffused the fleeting vacant space of his thoughts and changed the rhythm of his mood. His poem ends with these words, “And then my heart with pleasure fills / And dances with the daffodils.” One brief glimpse of a field of daffodils and its memory transported Wordsworth to a realm of joy. He allowed himself to dance with the daffodils, to be transported to another place, and to write a poem that has gladdened the hearts and captured the imagination of generations.

There is no denying that the last 18 months have had a profound effect on our lives. Survival itself became a preoccupation of our thoughts and actions. It was a time of bewilderment and, sadly for many, an experience of abandonment – by family and friends, by co-workers and colleagues, and in the minds and hearts of some, even by God. We are not yet out of the woods, but on the horizon, there are glimmers of hope that we will return to a life unencumbered by face masks and pocket hand sanitizers. We have traversed a road that no one expected or could have imagined. Did we not wander, at times, lonely as a cloud?

It is my hope that, in the course of our lonely journeys, there were way stations of memories that buoyed our spirits, gladdened our hearts, and touched the depth of our souls. It is in such brief but favored moments that the presence of God is to be found, caring for us, sharing our burden and struggles, and synchronizing the rhythm of our souls with the beat of our hearts. Never abandoned, but loved; never lost, but forever found.

Perhaps in many ways, we are like the great mystics. When we allow memories of daffodils (however we define and picture them) to enter our consciousness, we will be transported to a realm of joy and recognize it as the presence of God in our lives. Only then will we too be able to dance with the daffodils.

– Dennis J. Yesalonia, S.J., Pastor