( I'd left the family dinner to go outside. I loved my mother and father, the aunt, uncle and cousins gathered the dinner table, but suddenly I had to get away, shivering in the early spring Nebraska weather where patches of snow still lay on the ground, trying to melt but having a hard time of it. I headed for the alley that separated our house and yard from the Saunders', directly across from us.
I walked looking down, watching my step, not sure where I was headed. Then, in the middle of the alley, lifting from a muddy pile of snow, I spotted a cluster of Bachelor Buttons. Their blue was a vivid purple-blue, surprising and beautiful in the steadily darker evening. I knelt in the snow to look at the flowers, their ruffled petals like fragile wings. Even at age ten, I understood the moment: nature's ascendence out of winter's dormancy.
This was proof of God, no doubt about it.
I told no one. My family and I shared a mild version of Protestant Christianity, benign enough, but our Congregational Church never satisfied me. Divine revelation in a common flower would have made no sense in a religion of memorized prayer, solid good works. In college, I lost my religious faith completely. Our snowy alley had nothing to do with passing Latin Literature in Translation. On my small college campus, there was art, though: theater, painting, music, poetry. The arts seemed to me a world of Soul. How to join that world? I couldn't, I thought. I had no gifts large enough to offer Soul.
Ten years later, I fell from my Phi Beta Kappa rationality into emotional exhaustion. What gathered as despair became my gift to the Bachelor Buttons. To find my own religion, I had to live within my dream life, within my true love of writing, my pull toward myth, symbology, archetypes, alchemy, pre-historic origins. I didn't find The Answer but The Mystery, the Sustaining Mystery.
Bachelor Buttons are re-seeding annuals, returning every spring. Once, a long time after my vision in the alley, I wrote in a poem of mine, "I am returned to what I never left." )