I’m thinking that love is a series of moments, moments that, if we string them together and stretch them out, can fill our lives. Small moments.

I’ve been writing western novels and, to the surprise of no one, an author writes essentially what he is, where’s he’s been, what he’s felt. In my latest novel I wrote about a sunrise over the Big Horn Mountains. I wrote:

“The dawn rose up like thunder exploding off the crest of the Big Horn Mountains across the canyon. The sun was a rust-red, colored by tree smoke suspended in the cool morning air. Somewhere to the west a forest of pine was burning. Dark underbellies of thunder heads rose high on both sides, framing the sun against the rise of the mountain and the Bull Elk pasture on the other side of the canyon.”
What I didn’t say is that the sunrise I described came up quite unexpectedly. It was early morning. Joy and I were riding along a mountain road in a brown Chevy pickup. I had gotten out to open a wire gate and was getting back into the truck to drive through. There in front of us was the sun exploding over the Horn, sending shafts of light through the dark thunder clouds, a fiery white ball burning up the universe. I sat there for a moment stunned. Joy reached over and turned the truck off and we sat there in silence and stared at that scene full of wonderment. It was just a moment, a moment we stretched into five. Sunrises like that never last long; a small moment in time.

I remember my daughter Martha’s birth. Joy pushed that little girl out into the world where she was apprehended by a fellow dressed in white scrubs. He held her up, his hand under her dark wet head, examining her bruised body, counting fingers and toes. With her first breath, she blew bubbles, then for a nanosecond she smiled. I was the only one who saw that smile. I know, I’ve been told it is impossible, but there it was. It was like she was saying to the world, “Oh my God, I’m here.” Then the nano-second was gone and she was crying, protesting such a rude entry into an unforgiving world. It was just a nano-second, an incredible brief interval, a moment in time.

When I was nine, I remember my father standing in the gate of a pole stock corral where one hundred thirty six yearlings were restrained, detained against their will. They were milling, bawling for their mothers, wondering what was going on. My dad stood in the opening, a twenty-five foot riata in his right hand, and with his left, pulled his Stetson down over his forehead to protect his eyes from the glare of the morning sun. They were his calves and his face said he was so glad to be able to work them, to mark, brand and dock them. It was his eyes. They were saying, “I’m the luckiest fool in the world. Look what I get to do.” Pure joy. A small moment in time.

In the early seventies a Country and Western singer named Sonny James sang a song– part of the lyrics were: “True love’s a blessing, such a wonderful blessing, True love’s a blessing just wait and see.” Life stretches out before us like a South Texas road, going on and on, until the straight line of it disappears on the distant horizon. Maybe Sonny James was right. Maybe true love is a blessing. I can’t wait to see what’s on that road, these small moments in time, the true, incredible miracle of love. Grhowe

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