Saturday, December 21, 2019

Benediction


Some years ago, my mind in tumult,
I came to you, 
and you bowed, 
or was it a curtsy?
Dressed in green (or was it gold?)
your nimble limbs swept toward me
when there was no breath of wind,
beckoning and offering blessing 
in your wordless way.

The winter woods around you are seldom silent, 
usually filled with chips and twitters,
unmelodious whistles, squeaks and squawks.
But today there is music - 
the single, lilting phrase of a hermit thrush,
promise of hope for what is beyond
this frozen moment,
promise for the future.

On this end-of-year solstice morning
I have come seeking you.
Clothed in soft-browns and silver,
limbs stiffened in the cold,
you move less easily now.
And yet, again I have come.
I have come for your benediction.
I have come to say goodbye.



Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ten Years of Old Floors (Reflections on Leaving)


Ten years of old pine floors and wavy windows
that let the outside in,
secrets held in unknown histories.
Walls that were, doorways gone.
Rooms and roof lines gained and lost, 

mysteries beyond unraveling.

The marsh is clothed in browns and tans,
as when we first arrived,
a muted promise of discovery.
The years have changed it.
Populations of cattails, wild rice and jewelweed

jockey for position.
Like life itself, 

never static.

Ten years taller are the trees. 
Sycamores and yellow poplar scrape the sky,
finger-twigs stretching toward the clouds,
while beech and holly grow together in community,
thin places where the Divine stoops low,
meeting me unexpectedly.  
And yet...some are gone, 
remembered only by their fallen remains, 
ghosts among the living, 
reminders of an earlier time.
I miss them.

For ten years we have been gifted.
Gifted by an old house with old pine floors, 
by trees and fields, woodlands and water;
Gifted by life itself, 
and ten years of memories,
of blessings and of growth.
Ten years of gratitude.

Thank You.





Friday, November 22, 2019

Molting


Every fall she appears forlorn, bedraggled, 
with feathers missing and
bare patches on her rump,
surely cold and damp without her full plumage, 
which is yet to come.
A time to endure 
and hope for renewal.

Massive skeletons against the sky, 
they stand stripped, devoid of color,
foliage shed.
Perhaps it doesn't matter whether
by the gale's force or a gentle letting go;
The outcome is the same, 
entailing a long winter's wait 
for green and new growth 
to resume.

They float on the river, 
waterfowl bound to the earth 
for a season.
Unable to fly, 
they must bide their time and watch,
vulnerable, 
eyes on the sky they
cannot inhabit until 
new flight feathers emerge.

Browned and brittle,
stalks that were supple and green 
stand drying in the cold.
Goldenrods and asters, 
yellows and purples blanched to tan, 
holding pale, fuzzy seedheads 
soon to be 
dislodged by the breezes, 
sowing promise
of life to come.

Molting, Shedding, Waiting.
Emerging, Sowing, Hoping.

Believing.
Thanks be to God.








Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Wild Winds


O, blessed somber day of
ferocious winds and coming cold.
Color remnants hurled against the overcast sky
tug at my...at my what? At my heart? My soul?

Wistful day of
wild gales that strip away what was, 
time slipping through my fingers
as I grieve what is passing, 
not yet ready to embrace what will be...
As if I knew.

The dear trees, who are my companions,
twist and writhe in the tumult,
trunks and branches whipped by forces 
beyond themselves. 
Responsively, they bow.
Their survival depends upon surrender.
And what of mine?

On this turbulent late-autumn day 
latent fears rise to the surface,
fears in the pit of my stomach,
fears of my own rigidity and desire to cling.

And yet, where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your Presence?
It is enough.












Thursday, October 24, 2019

If You Are Quiet You Can Hear the Leaves Fall

I haven't posted in a while but am reposting this, as it is as true today as it was a year ago.




If you are very quiet you can hear the leaves fall, 
following their twirling, swirling dance with your ears as well as your eyes, until they come to rest gently at your feet.

Even in the noisy tumult of the gales that loosen their grip,
Even amidst the strident tumult that rages in your mind, 
If you stop, and if you will yourself to listen, you will hear their falling-gently-to-earth whispers, rustling through their comrades on their once-in-a-lifetime descent.

Background noise so fills our minds 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 us entirely if we let it and render us deaf, even to the Good.

We desperately need times of stillness. 
We need to turn our attention to that which is beyond ourselves and all our thoughts.
Our heart and soul's very functioning depend upon them.

Grace breaks through as I gaze at reddening and yellowing trees,
standing and swaying in the autumn winds that strip their leaves.
I am renewed.

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



Tuesday, May 21, 2019

In the Shadows of the Pin Oak


Sitting on the porch this morning, which feels like it could be the first morning, I am gleeful in the coolness, the return of spring after a brief incursion of summer. Enfolded in scents of honeysuckle flowers just opening and multiflora rose just fading I relish the greeness of trees swaying so lithely and supple, surrendered to the movement of the wind. 

Cardinals, chickadees, titmice, woodpeckers and the occasional rose-breasted grosbeak eat at the feeders and in the distance the ephemeral notes of a north-bound Swainson's thrush resting in our woodlands for a while. The warbler migration is almost finished, but the residents are busy with nest building and egg laying, still singing their individual sweet songs. 

A typical, if glorious, spring day...green of all that grows, blue of sky, golden sunlight falling in swaths upon the grass...and yet full of mystery and presence of the unseen. When looking into the clear, bright air they are invisible, but when looking into the backdrop of the pin oak across the road, thousands of moving particles are revealed as they reflect the light..pollen, dust, the fluff of sycamore seeds, tiny gnats and unidentified insects flitting through the air, far too many to begin to count. Everywhere but unseen unless gazing in exactly the right spot.

Life is all around, always, revealed by the Light even in the dark places. We are invited. Look for it.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Mary's Lark



This morning I bore witness to the waking of the day and to the participation of its heralds. I took my place on the porch at 5:30 am, just as the first cardinal began to sing, a half hour before dawn. A few minutes later a second one echoed each call and then, from further away, a third tuned up and the duet became a trio...like an avian version of the Wailin' Jennys' song, "One Voice." In time, a fourth and a fifth joined the ensemble and by 5:50, it sounded as if every cardinal in the world had awakened and joined the chorus.

At 5:52 a few Carolina chickadee and white-throated sparrow voices emerged amid the cardinal's raucous seranade and by 6:00, as the woodland and garden turned from grey to  green, the cardinals' song began to fade. Perhaps grudgingly giving up on further sleep, titmice and Carolina wrens accompanied the chickadees and white-throats, their collective melody punctuated now and then by Canada geese and barred owls' exclamations. The spring morning was in full swing!

Now it is evening and the order reverses and at some point, right around dusk, all the voices will fall silent for a few minutes, and then the cardinals' evening vespers will commence...not the exuberant exaltations of a new day, but the soft chipping of a lullaby, as though intent on lulling themselves to sleep.

Whenever I hear bird song, I think of this passage that was recorded by Alexander Carmichael, as he wandered through Scotland in the 1800's, attempting to set down the almost-lost Celtic prayers and blessings of centuries past.

"My mother would be asking us to sing our morning song to God down in the back-house, as Mary's lark was singing it up in the clouds, and as Christ's maven (song-thrush) was singing it yonder in the tree giving glory to God of the creatures for the repose of the night, for the light of the day, and for the joy of life. She would tell us that every creature on the earth here below and in the ocean beneath and in the air above was giving glory to the great God of the creatures and the worlds, of the virtues and the blessings, and would we be dumb."

God of the Creatures, thank you.