The street in front of my house is unpaved. It used to be an ordinary gravel road, but a few years ago the city came in and covered it with some sort of dark gritty stuff that looks and feels like it could be old pavement ground to bits. It’s coarser than sand but finer than gravel and gives the street a dingy appearance.
The wooded areas which surround the house still show, and will continue to show for some time, the effects of the hurricanes and tropical storms we’ve had in the past two years. There are fallen trees decaying in place among the living, and the living ones have a threadbare look, having lost many of their smaller branches. Many of them lean southward because the main force of hurricane Ivan, which had worse winds than Katrina, came from the north. Along the street and among the trees there is still a certain amount of storm debris, piles of leaves, pine needles, and branches swept along by the water that came all the way up the street from the bay during Katrina until they were blocked, where they accumulated and were left in heaps when the water receded. All of which is to say that our street does not provide a very beautiful walk these days, although to my taste greenery (which we have almost year-round) is almost always pleasant, even if it’s not in the best condition.
On Thanksgiving morning I went out fairly early to walk our two dogs. When I stepped out of our driveway and turned to the east, the same old street was transfigured. The street turns a bit just past our house in that direction, so that it almost seems to end. From this apparent end, and over my neighbor’s house and the woods behind it, the morning sun was shining straight along the street. There was a bit of mist around, just enough to hold and magnify the golden light. The surface of the street itself was shining. It might have been the path to an enchanted castle.
I often speculate about the creation, Eden, and the Fall. I don’t know how to reconcile the Genesis account of a paradise with the story the scientists tell us, of a very old world and a very old human race that developed out of the same sort of nature-red-in-tooth-and-claw that we see around us now. Maybe the sight of my street on Thanksgiving morning was a hint. Maybe the first conscious male and female homo sapiens did indeed inhabit a world that looked more or less like our own, but was transfigured for them by the sensible grace and presence of God.