The first picture I saw this morning was taken at Hovenweep, six prehistoric villages on the border of Colorado and Utah, and showed the “the moon giving way to the morning sun.”
In my sleepy state, on the border of dreaming and waking, before my decaf Sumatra and warm croissant with olallieberry preserves, I started wondering about the idea of giving way—my dreamy morning hours giving way to rain and midday obligations, winter beginning to give way to spring, and everywhere, examples of this continuity which makes up life.
The meaning of it, giving way, is ceding, passing the baton or the torch, letting the other have its turn.
But beyond that, giving way is allowing passage, enabling a journey, leading to or even carrying. The stairs give way. A train gives way, as does a horse, a mule descending the Pololu Valley, or a donkey climbing the steep rise of Santorini with its sheer white cliffs. A wheelchair, graciously, gives way to those whose only way is that.
And in a further sense of that, the spritual, it’s causing or inspiring a creative path. Claude Monet wrote “I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” The flowers by their very nature gave way to Monet’s paintings of them, which in turn give way to the viewer’s pleasure, sharing the flowers.
The meaning of that first moon and sun “giving way” is yielding, but that, too, has several sides. Yielding as in letting someone else go ahead of you, as in losing yourself to temptation (both implying a kind of lessening of self, a ceding of one’s place in the landscape or moral world); but also as in producing—offering—yielding fruit or flowers or some other rich and generous bounty. Giving of yourself to others, to the world, with natural and voluntary grace. Not losing anything, but gaining everything.
Finally, the giving way reminds me of the Navajo Blessing Way and Beauty Way, another way of healing and of finding harmony.
image: Christie B. Cochrell, Stairs (York)