It is daybreak, and the stars are falling.
At least, that's how it looks this morning, as heavy wet snow-stars plummet, filling the span between cottage and woods with their silent, stunning artillery. Sleet is predicted for much of the day, a staunch declaration that Spring is seeping out from under Winter's hard and icy grip.
It has been the sort of winter when one questions Spring's return. We have known the time Gaels call Am Faoilteach, "the Wolf Month," when hunger and fear leave their sharp indentations on even the most well-armoured souls.
"What though the tempest round me roars, I know the Truth, it liveth;
What though the darkness round me falls, songs in the night it giveth."
Songs in the night have been few and far between, though I've tried and tried to be brave. I love this old song, (circa 1864, attrib. to Anne Warner), and--usually--I love Winter. But I confess I've done precious little singing. The best I could manage, most days, was a snatch or two of wordless whistling, usually slip jigs with their defiant, springy rhythms. I believe in the power of words, of naming things into being, but my faith became so hesitant and timid that my dearest hopes were no longer among the things I could name.
And then the plumber called.
What? A plumber? One of those people who play with pipes, who put the pipes together, add water, and make them sing? A real honest-to-goodness PLUMBER?!?
Aye, a plumber called. It seems The Bagpiper's Son, a wandering woodsman, had met a plumber's son on his travels--verily, the Son of a Living Plumber. The plumber's son heard our tale of woe and said, "Fear not, for the Plumber is with you, and he shall mend your plumbing and make it whole."
Blessed are they who believe what they have not seen...well, we had indeed begun to suspect that plumbers were mythical creatures, mere will-o'-wisps at the edge of our imaginings. Our regular calls to our previous plumber had become like desperate prayers to a distant and silent saviour, if you'll forgive this slight blasphemy. We pleaded, we bargained, we ranted and raved... in short, we made absolute fools of ourselves on that man's answering machine, to no avail.
But yesterday, the weather began to warm. Our hearts dared to lift. There were portants in the heavens. The moon was waxing gibbous. Long had we waited in unwashed darkness... And Lo, unto us a plumber was given. And the tools were in his bag and the mantle of his credentials was on his shoulders: He is a plumber and retired professional engineer who regularly works with Habitat for Humanity. He has plumbed many houses. Within a few hours he had measurements taken, floor plans and schematics drawn, and a parts list written. Oh, Hallelujah Chorus!
Now, like any long-unused system, our faith has gone rusty and stiff. It is hard work to shake things loose and exercise our belief, allow ourselves to trust again. The Bagpiper has not done much piping, and I have not done much singing, but now The Plumber Has Come and perhaps we shall dig down and reconnect to the sweet well of music again. It is hard to believe, but The Plumber says work can begin next week. It is hard to believe, but this project is being enscribed, copied in triplicate, and named into being.
"My life flows on in endless song above earth's lamentation...
I hear the real, tho' far-off hymn that hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear that music ringing--
It sounds an echo in my soul; how can I keep from singing?"