Passion of Kindness

In the midst of the many paths that lay across the land and beneath the gliding stars was one that branched off in a curve.  For a time it followed a huge irrigation channel.  The water rushing headlong in the dark was so loud they could hear it over their engine.  Then the road abruptly changed direction and climbed a projection in the valley floor, as out of place as a volcano and a hundred or more feet high, at the summit of which the road came to an end with hardly any room to turn around.  They stopped here, facing south, stunned by the pellucid night.

Lined with blue at its western edge, the sky was heavy with stars that, sparkling gently, showed a barely perceptible hint of yellow.  An uninterrupted horizon was visible in the direction they were facing, they were high up, and many stars seemed to be below them, others straight on.  More like gentle lamps than stars, their blinking was not cold and quick like the disinterested stars of winter, but slow and seductive, as if they were speaking in a code that all mankind understood, even if it did not know that such a language existed, much less that it was following its benevolent commands.  And along with the stars came the inexplicable illusion that the warm wind was visible in a procession across the valley floor.  While Harry and Catherine were suspended among these stars, for three hundred and sixty degrees the world was as calm as if it had never known anything but peace and perfection.

“I didn’t know the world could be like this,” Catherine said.  “I’ve never seen the sky in such a passion of kindness.”  

                                    -Mark Helprin,  In Sunlight and in Shadow

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