I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

In the 1850s, a long time before Facebook, Twitter, email, NYTimes.com and CNN, Henry David Thoreau was worried about how often his neighbors checked their mail and read the newspaper (once a week should suffice, he said) because, he wrote, “I believe the mind can be permanently profaned by the habit of attending to the trivial things, so that all our thoughts shall be tinged by triviality.” Then he said, “Read not the times, read the eternities.” I have been bogged down by details lately. The other day I even shouted right out loud “God is definitely not in the details” while I tried to repair the vacuum cleaner which had sucked up something little, a sliver from kindling, then dog hair,  a pony-tail holder, a penny, a paper clip and a lump of grit and sand got all jammed in behind it and pretty soon I had a big old plug that required a long wire and a lot of swearing to un-do.  Which is a big part of why I cheered when I picked up the battered Bantam Classic paperback Walden and Other Writings off the piano bench or maybe the coffee table,  and opened it, randomly to this– (It was easy to see as it had  been underlined by my sister when she used it in school back in 1981.): 

“Knowledge does not come to us by details, but in flashes of light from heaven.”  

I don’t think those flashes of the divine are the ones that come from getting electrocuted by appliances. I do believe that one way to find them (or have them find you) is to go outside leaving all devices at home, and then sit and walk, jog, pedal, boat or just lie on a rock and look around and listen and wait for as long as it takes to slow a beating heart and clear the clutter from the junk drawer of a brain.  Even if we don’t catch that divine flash today,  at least we’ll have done a little  housekeeping for the soul.