Sunday, November 1, 2020

What a Buck in the Marsh Taught Me About Respect on This Morning After the Election

 I wrote this piece the morning after the 2016 election, but I feel the importance of sharing it again. As we head into the tumultuous Tuesday coming up, let's try and remember that every voter is full of emotions right now...fear and hope most of all. Let's allow each other our emotions, both before and after the election, and whatever the outcome, let's  do all we can to respect each other's humanity and needs. 


I am fortunate that I have the flexibility to walk the woodlands and visit the marsh this morning. Where else would I go on such a troubling day? I went into this election, determined that no matter the outcome, I would continue to do my best to live as salt and light in a world that always needs both. As an unashamed follower of Christ, I have and continue to attempt to live in accordance with what matters to Him...treating people with love, treating the Creation with care, and recognizing my dependence on the Spirit to help me to know and name my blindness and shortcomings.

But this morning, I have to admit that that determination comes hard. I am chagrined to realize who made up the voting block that has elevated our president-elect. I am sickened with grief and foreboding for what this outcome will mean for the earth, for the Creation, its creatures and all the humans who depend upon it for life, as the party elected will not hesitate to exploit it full measure and never look back.

I was thinking these thoughts, and wondering whether I had anything at all to say in this space this morning, anything gleaned from the natural world around me, as I walked along the boardwalk, when I heard the crashing and saw the dried cattails waving wildly. I had seen possible traces before of deer in the marsh, but was never quite sure. "How would they maneuver through the muck?"

But there he was, thrashing through the cattails, antlers entangled, seemingly struggling to find solid footing. I stopped immediately, as I didn't want my presence to spook him further and felt a surprising connection between that buck and myself, and with the rest of the individuals who make up this nation.  Respect for that buck and his need was instinctive, it came naturally. Respect for wildlife comes from the very core of who I am (perhaps more readily than respect for people, sometimes, I am disappointed to say.)

 As I watched and waited for him to make his way on to safety, I felt a visceral kinship with him in my own need for respect from others today and my need to offer others the same. Many of us are fragile this morning...those who voted other than the outcome, those who voted for it and are now wondering what they have done, those who voted in favor of it and are jubilant.  We all need to realize that many of us are in emotional turmoil and the need of the moment is genuine care and respect for one another. If you can't offer encouragement to those who are wrestling, at least do what I did.  Stay out of their way, give them space, and quiet and time to regain their footing and go on their way. 

This day and the days to follow will be what the nation builds upon as we face this new era. Let us grant each other the grace to be ourselves and to reach out to care for one another even in disagreement. Let us continue our hard work of bringing light into darkness, for everyone's sake.

Monday, October 26, 2020

If You Are Quiet You Can Hear the Leaves Fall

Reposting this is becoming an autumn tradition

If you are very quiet
you can hear 
the leaves fall,
their twirling, swirling dance
with your ears
as well as your eyes, 

until they come to rest
at your feet.

Amidst the 
that loosen
their grip,

even amidst the 
that rages
in your mind, 

if you stop, and
if you will yourself
to listen, 

you will hear their
falling-gently-to-earth whispers, 

as they rustle through
their companions

on the once-in-a-lifetime

Background noise
fills my mind
right now...

Outer noise of destruction, 
of greed, 
of power wielded wrongly.

Inner voices of fear,
of sadness, 
of outrage, 
of powerlessness...

noise that will surely drown me 
if I let it and
render me deaf, 

even to the Good.

And yet,
in stillness,
I notice that
which is beyond
and all my thoughts.
Gazing at
the trees of autumn,
standing and swaying
in the winds
that strip their leaves,
Grace breaks through.
I am renewed.

If you are very quiet, you can hear the leaves fall. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Deeply Rooted


(because they are deeply rooted,
with a nod to Psalm 1 and St Paul)

and graceful,
supple dancers
straining heavenward
(though no one tends them)
swaying in the slightest breeze
storm-blown but not broken
in autumn as others fade
cheery pink and yellow 
welcoming faces
hosting hungry

Monday, October 12, 2020

What Better Way?

What better way to greet the dawn this chilly,
drizzly, breezy morning than to wander,
wrapped in my old blanket,
among the damp salvia and agastache
and asters, blues and purples all,
or to delight in the sunny late black-eyed Susans
and the scarlet of the young blueberries
against the backdrop of slowly-turning autumn
colors of the woods?

How better to welcome the
newness of today 
than listening to the rhythm of the rain,
to the early cries of blue jays,
of crows and cardinals 
white-throated sparrows and the 
melodies of still-present crickets and katydids,
counting down what is left of the lingering
warm days of the year?

We are on the cusp of the Earth's long rest but,
like a child not yet ready for bed,
she prances and twirls,
showing off her extravagant colors and
throwing down her fruit...
abundance free for the taking, 
inviting all who are willing into
her dance of renewal.

Monday, October 5, 2020

This Misty Morning

The fog is a blanket this morning,
shielding me, as I sit on the front porch,
from the curious eyes
of neighbors.
But I can see all that I wish to
of my world, shrouded 
in the mist and
the sounds of wild things.

The chipmunks seem in a determined frenzy, 
hurriedly stocking up on the seeds
that will see them through the winter, and
the landscape is painted with
muted golds and purples, as  
the orange coneflowers, 
the aromatic asters,
and the stalwart salvias bloom on, 
feeding lingering ruby-throats and
the myriad bumblebees still
buzzing through the gardens.

Against the backdrop of cricket's and katydid's
early autumn songs,
the first ruby-crowned kinglet and
purple finch appeared in the
old apple tree, 
the kinglet boldly flitting through
the branches, apparently finding enough
prey to make its foraging worthwhile,
the finch still, cautious and watchful,
carefully weighing the dangers of this 
unfamiliar landscape before
settling in at a feeder, 
eager to dine after its journey from
the north.

I am swathed in gratitude this morning.
All I did was place seeds and small plants
into the ground last spring and they,
of their own accord,
have erupted into bounty.
The Creator, who has  been thusly
providing for all of life in the same manner,
is smiling. 
And I am smiling too on this foggy
October morning, thankful to be
partners with God.


Saturday, September 26, 2020

Giant's Toes

The last few weeks have been full of the experience of caring for my former spiritual director in her last days and finally, the exhausting honor and privilege of accompanying her to the far edge of her life. This morning, I went looking for anchors.


What keeps them standing, against the odds
of gravity, wind and rain,
of eagles nests and woodpeckers'
excavations and human

What anchors them in tumultuous times, 
branches whipping wildly,
their trunks swaying to the
of the wind
as storms seem bent on destruction?

I know of roots and cambium,
of heartwood, xylem and phloem,
but what of these curious protrusions 
that grip the earth as if
holding on for dear life?

Surely we need whimsy in the face
of what feels like chaos.
We need to let our imaginations 
run free and welcome the moments of 
imagination that allow us to breathe again
and to smile, if only in passing. 

They are the giants' toes, of course.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Gratitude in Tumultuous Times


For granting this space, that I may share 
 in Your creative, sustaining of life, 
thanks be to You, O God.



     For the miracle of seeds that turn the simplicity of lawn    
into a riot of color and beauty,
haven for small creatures,
thanks be to You.

For the ever present late-summer music of
crickets and katydids
and the goldfinch song among the sunflowers,

for monarchs and swallowtails and bees of all sizes feeding
on buckwheat in the hedgerow,
thanks be to You.

For blossoms that feed the
  migrating ruby-throats,
almost-never-still, zipping
back and forth between flowers,
feeders and each other,
thanks be to You.

For the deep peace of such a place,
for the gift of participating in the provision of Your care,
over and over,
day by day,
moment by moment,
thanks be to You.