Shadows Moving with the Sun

Be comforted; the world is very old,
  And generations pass, as they have passed,
  A troop of shadows moving with the sun;
Thousands of times has the old tale been told;
  The world belongs to those who come the last,
  They will find hope and strength as we have done.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “A Shadow”


The shadow’s the thing. 
If I no longer see shadows as “dark marks,”
as do the newly sighted,
then I see them as making some sort of sense of the light.
They give the light distance;
they put it in its place.
They inform my eyes of my location here, here O Israel
here in the world’s flawed sculpture,
here in the flickering shade of the nothingness
between me and the light.
~Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

shadow closeup

A shadow is hard to seize by the throat and dash to the ground.
~Victor Hugo from Les Miserables

October Funeral



October is nature’s funeral month.
Nature glories in death more than in life.
The month of departure is more beautiful
than the month of coming - October than May.
Every green thing
loves to die in bright colors.
~Henry Ward Beecher






Thanking the Light



Now a red, sleepy sun above the rim
Of twilight stares along the quiet weald,
And the kind, simple country shines revealed
In solitudes of peace, no longer dim.
The old horse lifts his face and thanks the light,
Then stretches down his head to crop the green.
All things that he has loved are in his sight;
The places where his happiness has been
Are in his eyes, his heart, and they are good.
~Siegfried Sassoon from “Break of Day”



The Thin Places


sunset10232Heaven and earth are only three feet apart,
but in the thin places that distance is even smaller.
A thin place is where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted
and one is able to receive a glimpse of the glory of God.
~Celtic saying




The Sky Flames

sunrise10123“…the sky flames, more intense.
I didn’t see it coming.”
~Patricia Hooper, from “Equinox”

sunrise10124…the autumn is deep.
Its pitch is only beginning, and will brighten
before the end.  Brighten
into darkness,
or into spring.
~Pamela Steed Hill from “September Pitch”



Absolutely Clear




Don’t surrender your loneliness
So quickly.
Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice
So tender,

My need of God
~Hafez, Persian poet

When my heart clenches with sadness, when my thinking is muddled with stress and doubting, when I can’t focus on what is right before me because tears cloud my vision, I remember one thing remains clear in the mist and midst of the fog.

I have need for God and I am softened in my neediness.



The Unseen Seen



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.

~Sarah Smiley



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.
~Susan Coolidge



For what human ill does not dawn seem to be an alleviation?
~Thornton Wilder



Awash with Angels


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.


And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
~ Gerard Manly Hopkins from “God’s Grandeur”


Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.
~Richard Wilbur

The Trivial Transfigured




A sudden light transfigures a trivial thing, a weather-vane, a wind-mill, a winnowing flail, the dust in the barn door; a moment,- -and the thing has vanished, because it was pure effect; but it leaves a relish behind it, a longing that the accident may happen again.
~Walter Pater from “The Renaissance”

The accident of light does happen, again and again, but when I least expect it.  I need to be ready for it; in a blink, it can be gone.  Yet in that moment, everything is changed and transformed forever.  The thing itself, trivial and transient becomes something other, merely because of how it is illuminated.  And so am I, trivial and transient, lit from outside myself, transfigured by a love and sacrifice that I can never expect or deserve. I need to be ready for it.




Barbarous in Beauty



Summer ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the
Stooks arise
Around; up above, what wind-walks! what
lovely behavior
Of silk-sack clouds!  Has wilder, willful-waiver
Meal-drift molded ever and melted across the skies?
~Gerard Manly Hopkins, “Hurrahing in Harvest”