Alone we are born
And die alone
Yet see the red-gold cirrus
over snow-mountain shine.
Upon the upland road
Ride easy, stranger
Surrender to the sky
Your heart of anger.
“High Country Weather” by James K. Baxter.
James Baxter is a hero in his homeland of New Zealand, and apparently these are well-known lines among Australians and New Zealanders — the people my dad continually declares he’ll be joining, if, for the foreseeable future, the United States continues its long economic slide. (For the record: he’s been saying this for several years now.)
Baxter was a convert to Christianity, a fact which must change one’s reading of the shattering lines, “Alone we are born/ And die alone.” For those are not the words of a Christian; after all, God’s presence is forever immediate. He will never leave you nor forsake you.
But then again, Shakespeare through Hamlet asked, “To be or not to be?” And even though a Christian can never not be, the question is still real and haunting, just like the words of High Country Weather.
The picture was taken at my friend Raleigh’s farm in Virginia.