~Percy Bysshe Shelley
our spring long spent
and now we come upon
a time of subtle beauty,
of hue and harmony,
a solemn serenity
by the clamor of summer.
a curtain of grace
cloaking and comforting,
readying us for winter.
How might I appreciate something
that is such a constant,
like my next heart beat or
breathing my next breath,
so unquestioningly predictable
it never registers
in my consciousness
until the moment
it might be rent asunder,
as delicate as a shattered web
hanging heavy with morning frost?
In knowing it will be someday lost,
my lungs emptied and heart stilled,
comes the realization:
the air I rely on
for my very existence
is the most precious gift of all.
For that ephemeral knowledge
of my fragility on this earth,
in learning that I love
my utter dependency on my Maker
who gifts me my next breath,
I am truly and forever
A fine rain was falling, and the landscape was that of autumn.
The sky was hung with various shades of gray,
and mists hovered about the distant mountains
– a melancholy nature.
Every landscape is,
as it were,
a state of the soul,
and whoever penetrates into both
is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail.
~Henri Frederic Amiel
What is melancholy
at first glance
when studied up close.
It isn’t all sadness~
there is solace in knowing
the landscape and I share
an inner world of tears.
this deep in fall—
still not a butterfly.
homely bristled and crawling
thriving only on what is beneathmy feet and mouth, blindly
chewing my way
through the leaf’s edge.
Till I peer over the verge
of what will be,
of winged beauty
a worm graced by
You can hide nothing from God.
The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him.
He wants to see you as you are,
He wants to be gracious to you.
You do not have to go on lying to yourself and your brothers,
as if you were without sin;
you can dare to be a sinner.
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Life Together
One of my Monday morning jobs in our college health clinic is to meet with any student who got so intoxicated they had to spend part of the weekend in the emergency room. Alcohol poisonings are distressingly common on all college campuses, and ours is no exception. What I do during our morning-after visit is review the records with the student so they have some idea what took place before they woke up hours later on a gurney in a noisy smelly emergency room– alcohol is an effective amnesia-producing anesthetic when it doesn’t manage to outright kill its consumer. It is a humbling experience to read about what one said and did while one was under the influence of intoxicants and yet have no memory of any of it. That is why my time is well spent with the recovering and remorseful. Not only does their stomach lining still burn from all the vomiting, but their head hurts from acknowledging the risks they took in the name of having a good time. It is rare that I ever need to meet again with the same student about similar behavior.
This, in reality, is a very effective kind of hurting, one that is crucial to future decision-making: dangerous behavior is far less appealing when one still carries the scars. Priorities change for the better.
Today I won’t be able to work in several hundred now-sober students into this morning’s clinic schedule after the unfortunate and widely publicized events that happened just a couple blocks off our college campus a little over 24 hours ago. I suspect most of the students involved remember more than they wish to about their participation in a big-block-party-gone-terribly-wrong. They were part of an aggressive mob mentality threatening law enforcement personnel trying to disperse an increasingly rowdy and obnoxious crowd. Some are finding themselves in video and Instagram/Facebook documentation of their profane words and gestures, throwing potentially lethal objects, vandalizing private and city property as well as causing thousands of dollars of city resources to confront out of control drunk rioters. These students can try to lay low but there is no place to hide from their inner knowledge of what they have done, the part they played and the irreparable damage they caused to individuals, relationships, property and as well as the reputations of the city and the university. There is no comforting alcohol amnesia to hide within this time.
The only possible healing from an event like this is to come clean about what one has done, admit the mistakes made and work to make it right no matter the cost — to dare to acknowledge the sins committed and accept the consequences of one’s actions.
Hiding is cheap — guilt and shame remain behind the mask.
Grace and forgiveness is costly but there is no longer need to hide and be eaten away by a continually hurting soul.
My prescription for this day and in the days to come: changed priorities ahead. College is about obtaining a valuable and precious education, not about finding the biggest and best party of intoxicants.
Take with food and a large dose of humility.
My story from last fall has been published in the October/November issue of Country Magazine, now available for sale at your local magazine sellers, or subscribe by going to this link to read the story. This is the fifteenth story I’ve had published in this really beautiful magazine, now in its 26th year of publication.
It is in the early morning hour that the unseen is seen,
and that the far-off beauty and glory,
vanquishing all their vagueness,
move down upon us till they stand
clear as crystal close over against the soul.
Slow buds the pink dawn like a rose
From out night’s gray and cloudy sheath;
Softly and still it grows and grows,
Petal by petal, leaf by leaf.
For what human ill does not dawn seem to be an alleviation?
Don’t grieve that it’s gone, wonder that it was.
Laugh that you lived and dance that you dared.
Inhale that it happened — and it was grace.
And I memorize the light — that is how to make the smallest life big and grand –
The best way to prepare for what’s ahead is to be present to what is now.
Be present to the gift of now.
And right then –
the sheer sheen of grace on everything lights.
~Ann Voskamp www.aholyexperience.com
Today, in Bellingham, even the sidewalks gleam.
Small change glints from the creases
in the lady’s mantle and the hostas after
the rain that falls, like grace, unmerited.
My pockets are full, spilling over.
~Luci Shaw from “Small Change”
There were thunder storms and torrential rains to the north of us, to the east and to the south, but we had only a gentle constant showering during the night — a calm center. This morning such undeserved grace is gleaming as if a spill over of twilight’s gloaming.
Today we are awash, cleansed, with bright wings.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.