Thursday, May 28, 2020
Hymns of praise to You, O Creator God
Hymns of rain pattering on new leaves this morning,
of drips on the pond
and wind in the boughs,
the soft melodies of wood thrush and peewee
and raucous cries of blue jay and nuthatch,
of catbirds' murmuring musings and
tanagers' buzzy cadence.
Hymns of trucks in the distance,
their provision and the life within their cabs,
of a husband's footsteps on old wooden floors
and the teapot whistling in the kitchen,
of neighboring roosters' early crowing
and their hens' laying song.
Hymns of woodpecker's drilling
and their young's insistent squawks,
the whoosh of air beneath the vulture's wings
and the twang of the green frog's call,
of squirrels chattering
and the vixen's scream.
Hymns of praise to You, O Creater God,
Hymns that tune my heart to You.
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Enfolded in the greens of yellow birch,
of shagbark hickory and beech,
the blackhaw thicket, newly
leafed out and blooming,
For me anyway.
The hooded warbler singing
has no trouble navigating
the tangle of twigs and branches,
feasting on insects
too tiny for me
His song I know,
but he moves unseen until,
into the open,
he is revealed,
brilliant yellow and black,
going about his business
unmindful of my
The northern waterthrush is
a different story.
He too sings,
leading me on
in anticipation and
to the next thicket,
the next turn in the path,
just out of reach
there but not
How like the realities buried
The unease disguised
too frightening to face
It hides and weaves
through the recesses
of my consciousness
following its movements,
I recognize the fear
that has given itself away.
And with that recognition,
The thickets have taught me
how to wait,
how to hold the
seen and the unseen,
how to hold what is
known and unknown,
and the freedom to dare to
hold them both.
Thanks be to God.
Saturday, May 2, 2020
There are old stumps here,
relics of giants who used to
dot this neglected woodland.
And roads that have filled
in with trout-lilies and dwarf ginseng
and mayapples that
have spilled over from
the forest floor on either side,
a carpet as far as the eye can see.
Wood thrush and catbirds
have arrived, their songs the
blessing and benediction
of the day,
now joining the towhees
and house wrens
who arrived, and
staked out territory,
some days ago.
Set amid surrounding houses
this old patch of woods is all
that remains of what once was,
an ancient-feeling sacred space,
an invitation into awe,
this secret garden, not made
by human hands.
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
In this strange, disorienting,sometimes-hopeful
sometimes-fearful, sometimes-sad time, I can forget.
The gifts are here, as always. The Presence of God is here, as always.
To recognize them I need to notice, as always.
And so, once again, I open myself to...
The moss that brightens the otherwise
still-somber grey and brown trail.
The acres of skunk cabbage, whose
proliferation depends upon the what-can-seem
interminable grey days
that bring the early rains.
The pileated woodpecker that swooped
into the backyard this morning,
confirming who has been chiseling
out the old stump.
The tiny dwarf-ginseng carpeting
the neighbors woodlands,
a diminutive hardy species with
tiny white flowers,
I have never seen before.
The great-blue heron that flew
from the old backyard pond onto
the gazebo roof just outside our kitchen window,
and the two small goldfish that,
for the moment anyway,
survived its pursuit.
The clear, sweet song of the fox sparrow
who, until this morning, I thought belonged to an oriole.
The old apple tree that is about to
burst into bloom,
having stood sentinel for
decades, unmindful of human
For all these,
for all I have missed
but have been present,
in every moment,
Thursday, March 26, 2020
I didn't think to ask for woodcocks
nor the fox
nor the merlin in the front yard
nor the fox sparrows in the back,
nor the tundra swans
nor the bald eagle who sailed through the yard
with some unfortunate prey clasped
in its talons.
I didn't think to ask for for the toads
and spotted salamander eggs
in the derelict backyard pond
nor the robins who prefer its wildness
to a domesticated bird bath.
I didn't think to ask for the two
nor the ancient clump of peonies
that somehow survived the carnage
of the previous owners,
nor for the softest soil
I have ever worked.
Or that my vocation as gardener
would bring redemption to
this bit of land and
blessing to those who loved it
In this frightening,
new, collective social
and while missing those I love,
I didn't think to ask for
the myriad young trees and shrubs
that will soon surround us
and are fast becoming
For all I didn't think
Friday, March 6, 2020
Up early, I headed
for a handful of hidden ponds,
hoping for wood frogs.
Like the monochrome of a pencil sketch,
or the patina of ancient pewter,
grey clouds and tree trunks,
bare branches, rocks and dried leaves,
stretched in all directions.
The ponds were quiet
with no wood frogs clacking,
no frenzied mating energy
upon closer inspection,
there were eggs, thousands of them,
or maybe millions,
laid on submerged twigs and leaves
in the nights before.
Captivated, I turned my attention
to what was there...
leaves visible on the pond bottom,
tall trees reflected in still water,
a teasing bubble as something
swam to the surface...
something long and sleek,
something black with yellow spots,
something gracefully twisting and turning
as it descended, head down,
back into the depths.
Through binoculars and taking a closer look
beneath the water,
what had looked like nothing much
became alive with the slow-motion movement of
creeping, gliding, crawling
over and under decaying debris,
going about their mating-season,
Contemplation of what is
rather than disappointment with what isn't.
Truly, is this not what I had really
Sunday, February 16, 2020
What was that wild emotion
as I stood grinning,
gazing up into the bare trees
and balancing on two legs and a walking stick
so as not to topple over?
What was that exhilarating sense of freedom
as I gazed at their dance,
me tethered to the ground,
them swaying far above,
blown back and forth by
every gust of wind?
When I prayed
(something I had never asked before),
in Your kindness
You blew a breeze
that gently lifted every twig,
a whisper that rippled through the woodland
and then was gone.
What was that glad response
emanating from my deepest self?
That continues on in the memory
of the moment?