Spiritual Direction

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Now and Not Yet

Through the long, barren winter
I waited...wearied in the waiting,
truth be told, trying to believe
the promised green
would come again.
And flowers. And warblers'
song.

I bent over woodland floor
and garden beds, nudging aside
last year's leaves and stalks,
probing for the evidence
that was supposed to
be there.

And the day came that I rejoiced,
was giddy, in fact, at the all but invisible 
new shoots, seen only by those
whose patience is wearing 
thin. And I thought I
was content.

This morning I walked the woodland
realizing 
that my longing is not
assuaged, 
after all. 
Dwarf ginseng, trout-lilies
and spring beauties abound,
all in bud, but none open.
The 
brown-thrasher has begun
his glad singing, 
but I
hear no 
warblers. 
I am still
waiting.

And yet, the promise unfolds in
its own time.
Between 
hope and surety,
between wanting 
and waiting,
between desire 
and fulfillment,
in the mystery of this moment
I am embraced. It is 
enough. 

Now and not yet.


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Anima

 


Anima, Latin for 
soul.

What if you entered into the
knowing in the eye of the ancient
she-elephant, or the curious 
gaze of the old draft mare,
or the joyous welcome offered
by your neighbor's young
golden retriever ?

What if you opened yourself to
the soft lowing of cow to new calf, or
the saucy glance of a frenzied chipmunk
as it races by, or the buzzing presence of
the wild bees that flock to a garden's
abundance?

What if you wondered at the evidences
of the Great Soul, who weaves
all that is together
into relationship,
into communion,
into a common, gathered,
embrace?

What if you accepted the invitation?

Anima, another word for
soul.



Sunday, February 21, 2021

Unstoppable


In the season of still-deep-winter
have you noticed
the wild things drawn
beyond this moment?

The juncos have begun trilling
from the treetops,

their restless hearts gladly
anticipating the prospect of moving on,
moving back.
And a single robin whinnies
in the damp woods across the road,
not yet singing, but heeding the
the 
pull towards longer days and
the hormonal shift
that awaits.
As do the bluebirds,
chortling 
their sweet notes,
flirting and pairing up,
preparations beginning,
the future on 

their minds.

Snow still lies heavy
on the land
and yet, the inexorable
movement 
towards spring
has 
begun, unfolding in
its own time, 
unstoppable,
untamable,
holy.

Have you noticed?








Wednesday, February 17, 2021

On This Frozen Ash Wednesday Morning

 



They are both calling, a 
duet of sorts, two species
in conversation. Or perhaps three,
my own soul responding 
as I enter in, as I breathe a sigh
of relief at their song
on 
this grey and
frozen morning, before 
the next round of snow.

Communion between cardinal
and wren. Between them and me.
Between God and them and me
and all that 
is on this
bright and frozen 
morning,
before the next
round of snow.





Thursday, February 4, 2021

Of Skunk Cabbages and Cardinals (or Hope in the Bleak Late Winter)

They have emerged, unlikely
harbingers of spring's coming
glory, their
inobtrusive mottled
heads rising through the
frozen muck melted by the
heat of their own bodies.
In the days ahead,
at just the right moment,
their humanly unappreciated scent
will draw first-of-the-year
flies and beetles
to feast on their, as-yet-undeveloped,
pollen.

He sings this morning, an exuberant  
rhythmic, clear whistle  
not heard since last spring, 
when he was courting.
February is too early for courting
and yet, in the now,
as the sun rises higher and
the daylight lengthens,
he tunes his voice and
his hopes towards
what is to
come. 

As do I.



Monday, December 28, 2020

Beauty Among the Browns

 


Searching for beauty among the browns 
And the greys and tans of
winter’s pall,
I tire of platitudes about
sleeping trees, their well-earned rest
and exquisite structure,
most keenly noticed
in their nakedness.
I tire of their stiffness and the
wind’s fierce moan
pummeling bare branches
and frozen bark,
of icy earth and water.

And so I search, intently,
diligently, persistently, as though
my life depended upon the outcome,
which it does…my inner life that
longs for beauty in the severity
and meaning in the waiting, hope
that this trying time will give way to
flowering and fruiting once again.

In the seeking is the finding, 
subtle though the rewards may be...
a few remaining winterberries hanging from dejected stems,
fuzzy grey magnolia buds and 
the-very-slowly-swelling, creamy
globules at the end of sassafras twigs,
enfolding next year’s leaves.
Beneath the woodland floor lie
tawny moth pupae and grubs and
the pale green points of skunk cabbage,
poking their heads above the surface,
testing the temperatures
undaunted by the chill, 

Are these the vibrant colors I long for?
Those that wind their way into verse and prose, so easily
conjuring images that make me smile?
No. 
But they are the colors of now, of what is now,
and in that I will rest. They are the
colors that protect and surround and
allow the birds of winter to
blend into their background
and become invisible against the tree trunks -
junco’s, white-throats, song sparrows, chickadees, titmice,
nuthatches, woodpeckers, Carolina wrens, mourning doves,
and the Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks that hunt them, 
drab colors all.

Beauty among the tans and greys,
beauty among the browns.



Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Lace

 


Towering,

stripped,

exposed,

besieged by winter gales,

beleaguered partners

giving voice

to the wind.

 

Guardians,

protectors,

anchors,

branches straining upward,

lords of the woodland,

lace against 

the sky.