Thursday, May 28, 2020

Hymns of the Morning


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

The Hidden Places



Enfolded in the greens of yellow birch,
of shagbark hickory and beech,
the blackhaw thicket, newly
leafed out and blooming,
stands impenetrable.
For me anyway.
The hooded warbler singing
from within
has no trouble navigating
the tangle of twigs and branches,
feasting on insects
too tiny for me 
to see.

His song I know, 
but he moves unseen until,
momentarily flitting
into the open,
he is revealed, 
brilliant yellow and black,
going about his business
unmindful of my 
quiet presence.

The northern waterthrush is 
a different story. 
He too sings,
teasingly, 
leading me on
in anticipation and 
hope, 
to the next thicket, 
the next turn in the path, 
just out of reach
remaining invisible,
there but not 
seen.

How like the realities buried
within me.
The unease disguised
as anger,
too frightening to face
head-on.
It hides and weaves 
through the recesses
of my consciousness
until, finally,
following its movements,
I recognize the fear
that has given itself away.
And with that recognition,
acceptance.

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
haltingly,
trustingly,
hold them both. 

Thanks be to God.



Saturday, May 2, 2020

Hazel's Woods



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
and farms,
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

Gifts


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 
concerns.




For all these,
for all I have missed
but have been present,
every day,
in every moment,
thank You.






Thursday, March 26, 2020

I Didn't Think to Ask for Woodcocks



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 tadpoles
and spotted salamander eggs 
in the derelict backyard pond
we inherited,
nor the robins who prefer its wildness
to a domesticated bird bath.

I didn't think to ask for the two 
solitary columbines
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
before me.

In this frightening,
new, collective social 
isolation,
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 
friends.

For all I didn't think
to ask...

Thank You.



Friday, March 6, 2020

Contemplation Beside a Salamander Pond


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
expended. But,
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
spotted salamanders, 
creeping, gliding, crawling 
over and under decaying debris,
going about their mating-season, 
daytime rest.

Grateful wonder.
Enfolding stillness.
Unfolding contentment,
Contemplation of what is
rather than disappointment with what isn't.
Truly, is this not what I had really

come seeking?










Sunday, February 16, 2020

Communion


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?

Wonder,
Awe,
Joy,

Gratitude.