Spiritual Direction

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

I Began The Day With the Oriole's Song

I began the day with the oriole's song
sung from the treetops,
a piercing, exuberant whistle of gladness
at the prospect of being alive and
the promise of procreation and
the glory of this moment.

And with the catbird's soft murmuring 
from the back thicket, sung by 
a jaunty fellow whose
quiet, if persistent,
friendly prattle
will accompany me
through my day.

And with the hummingbird's bold chatter
that warns off friend and foe alike,
whose tiny stature is
simply a disguise
for the fierce and untamable spirit
that lives within.

But it is the wood thrush,
that mystic of the woodlands, 
whose lilting, numinous invitation
beckons,
and calls me into silence and
into the wildness of
wordless prayer, into
simply being with
and being in
the unseen, 
always present,
Presence
of God.




Sunday, April 17, 2022

With the Wild Ones


On this Easter day, as others flock
to churches and organ music or
brass ensembles proclaiming
the resurrection of Jesus,
I am drawn to quiet,
to the woodlands and
the silence of all but birdsong and
the wind in the trees and
the running stream's murmuring 
over rocks.
Here I can kneel and give thanks for 
the carpet of these tiny ones on the forest floor -
spring beauties and dwarf ginseng and 
trout lily, blooming where nobody sees 
or appreciates them. Except me.
And God.

I wonder at the garden 
where Jesus was laid.
Was it as lovely and
as peaceful as here,
where I walk with Him
this morning?
In this this time-created garden
not made with human hands,
we sit together,
He and I,
and with the wild ones 
we enjoy our own
quietly exuberant
celebration 
of Easter.



Thursday, March 24, 2022

Obscure Promises


I am thinking about promises.
about the hidden promises
right in front of us
that go unnoticed,
unrecognized...
like the salamanders' egg masses
that resemble fluffy cotton balls,
or the grey and fuzzy magnolia
buds, more reminiscent of
baby mice than the fragrant pink
blossoms they will become.

I am thinking about the tiny embryos within
the Jacob's Ladder's seeds
that will sprout
and carpet the garden 
this spring, and about
fallen leaves
that break down into fertility 
and about
last year's dry and standing
stems left by a lazy,
(or was it a caring) gardener,
hollow stalks to incubate
a new generation of mason bees.

And what of us? What of
those buried sprouts of our 
true selves, those
obscure promises
implanted in our making, 
patiently waiting to be born,
or reborn,
as we participate in 
our becoming?

Noticings of our outer and
our inner world.
Glimpses of God's glory.
Invitations all.







Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Resilience



I'm not sure I know what resilience is.
Not experientially, anyway.

I know of wood frogs who hibernate
in the leaf layer, whose
blood is like anti-freeze and 
whose bodies freeze and thaw
through the winter.
I know of woodland depressions,
bowls in the earth
who want to be ponds but 
must be patient
and wait
for winter's ice to melt 
into the water that fills them,
only to become dry land again 
when their work is done.

Contrary to what Jesus is said to have said,
seeds do not die when they fall to the ground.
Rather, embryos within fully alive,
they lie helpless and inert,
pummeled by rain and abrasion until
slowly they soften and sprout and
open to the world.
As do desert plants who live
so long dormant,
out of sight and forgotten,
until awakened by showers,
they burst into bloom,
set their seed,
and return to silent slumber
once again. 

I know of skunk cabbage,
warmed from within,
melting through the frozen muck
and emerging in late winter,
as though it cannot stand the
darkness a moment longer.
And snow geese and tundra swans,
and humans with hearts on fire,
who press on through the long unknown
to the land that calls
them home.

I don't know what resilience is.
Not experientially, anyway.
But, from those who have no choice,
I learn.






Friday, February 18, 2022

The Building of a Garden


It is sacred work,
the building of a garden,
bowing in gratitude for the soil
and asking, "How may I
join you in the incubating
of new life?"

I hauled rocks from the tree line,
no less a holy task,
rocks to line my garden beds.
From the old piles, carefully
I lifted and then replaced those
that were the roof of
a chipmunk's home.
Many roofs sheltered many
tunnels but some were
as yet unused,
rocks enough to share.

Now the beds have rounded edges,
like the shape of a womb, holding
possibility for what is yet to come,
a different kind of pregnancy.
Now I wait,
trusting,
knowing,
that what grows 
in the darkness
will be revealed
in time.

Sacred work.
Sacred waiting.
One in the same.






Thursday, February 10, 2022

Old Eternal Rocks

 


"The stable earth, the old salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks." 

Eternal rocks.
Forged at the beginning of time. 
My rocks.
Those ever-present impediments
lurking under grass and soil.

Those pesky, heavy, nuisances
that impede my digging,
dulling my spade and bending
the fence posts, thwarting
my desire for seamless effort,
for moving ahead without interruption.

Those rocks I toss aside,
with muttering and without thought,
and add to the piles at the edge 
of the woods. Piles begun centuries 
before, when plows cut the earth behind
the horses who dragged them, and
later, tractors.
The farmers' present
now the past. 

Eternal, enduring rocks,
tellers of ancient stories I cannot read,
tales of mystery,
of hidden history written
in the depths as 
the earth was forming, recently
honored,
revered, 
carefully placed,
incorporated into the landscape of now,
and seen with
new eyes.


*Quote at top from St. Patrick's Breastplate.








Tuesday, February 1, 2022

The Herald on St Brigid's Day


He commences in mid-winter, 
when the landscape is frozen and
blanketed with snow
and the ice that does not crack
beneath my feet.
There have been other murmurings,
muffled whisperings and chip notes
from white-throats and 
song sparrows,
the short-lived, rollicking chorus
of the Carolina wren,
a snatch of the towhee's song,
as if he had forgotten himself and 
absentmindedly spoken
aloud.

On warmer days
house finches trot out their first phrases,
and the cardinal in the arborvitae
tentatively tunes up his whistle but,
as the next storm descends,
expectations recede and
their voices still.
It is not yet time.

Still, there are those who
carry hope, who,
even as snow swirls and
the temperatures plummet,
have begun the song that,
is now unquenchable. 
Tufted titmice, those jaunty, bright-eyed,
grey little beings who
flit after one another through the woodlands,
are enthusiastically
thinking spring thoughts
on these frigid,
though lengthening,
days.

For those who have ears,
their simple notes bless
our winter weariness
with an absolute
annual promise.
No matter how seemingly far off,
the earth will soften
once again
and spring will
slowly,
stealthily,
almost invisibly,
begin.

Who knows?
Perhaps,
it already
has.


February 1st is the feast day of St Brigid, Ireland's beloved saint, which coincides with the festival of Imbolc, the beginning of spring in the ancient Irish calendar.