Night-Weary Heavens



Suddenly a blackbird flew to the top of a beech. She perched way up on the tompost twig that stuck up thin against the sky and sat there watching how, far away over the trees, the night-weary pale-gray heavens were glowing in the distant east and coming to life. Then she commenced to sing.

Her little black body seemed only a tiny dark speck at that distance. She looked like a dead leaf. But she poured out her song in a great flood of rejoicing through the whole forest. And everything began to stir. The finches warbled, the little red-throat and the gold finch were heard. The doves rushed from place to place with a loud clapping and rustling of wings. The pheasants cackled as though their throats would burst. The noise of their wings, as they flew from their roosts to the ground, was soft but powerful. They kept uttering their metallic, splintering call with its soft ensuing chuckle. Far above the falcons cried sharply and joyously, “Yayaya!”

The sun rose.
~Felix Salten from Bambi


I had not actually been aware of the silence of the winter sunrise until the birds returned this week and the stillness retreated.   Last autumn their joyous morning songs had gradually ebbed as darkness expanded,  the heavy frosts driving them south to more hospitable climates.  Once in a while, if I listened carefully, there would be geese and trumpeters flying overhead with audible wing rushes and an occasional honk, though invisible in the fog and morning clouds.

Otherwise the eastern winter horizon would be lit to glowing each morning in stillness, without announcement or heralding song.  As if no one was there to notice.

The sunrises have a soundtrack again, just a few lines to introduce the symphony of spring around the corner.   In a short few weeks it will be all out booming chorus and I’ll be wishing for bird mufflers at 4:15 AM.

And so joy returns in the morning and I’m noticing.


Why Two?



Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?
~G.K. Chesterton

Even a Monday,
despite chills and cough,
there is work
that must be done;
I’ve been allowed
this day
to do my best
and maybe as this day dies
there will come



Picturing the Light




The most important person in any picture is the light.
~Edward Manet

Not exactly dark, but without shade,
the sharp purity of morning has been
diminished. I read somewhere that
“only full light reveals shadow.”
Moving through fog, living
is a blindness, a yielding
of my layered ignorance to the mist.
~Luci Shaw from “Without a Shadow”


A New Year Born



All days are sacred days to wake
New gladness in the sunny air.
Only a night from old to new;
Only a sleep from night to morn.
The new is but the old come true;
Each sunrise sees a new year born.
~Helen Hunt Jackson from “New Year’s Morning”


We awake glad,
breathe deeply of the sacred around us
glistening in the light of a soft sunrise.
Each day is a fresh start,
a gift from beyond,
content to renew covenant
with God and one another.





Taking Root



Let this day’s air praise the Lord—
Rinsed with gold, endless, walking the fields,
Blue and bearing the clouds like censers,
Holding the sun like a single note
Running through all things, a basso profundo
Rousing the birds to an endless chorus.

Now, shout from the stomach, hoarse with music,
Give gladness and joy back to the Lord,
Who, sly as a milkweed, takes root in your heart.
~Robert Siegel




Tattered and Tumbling Skies

photo by Starla Smit

photo by Starla Smit

sunrise113The rain and the wind, the wind and the rain –
They are with us like a disease:
They worry the heart,
they work the brain,
As they shoulder and clutch at the shrieking pane,
And savage the helpless trees.
What does it profit a man to know
These tattered and tumbling skies
A million stately stars will show,
And the ruining grace of the after-glow
And the rush of the wild sunrise?
~William Ernest Henley from “The Rain and the Wind”

Yesterday a calm and steady rain
made more sodden a sullen gray dawn
when unbidden, a sudden gust
ripped loose remaining leaves
and sent them spinning,
swirling earthbound
in yellow clouds.

The battering of rain and wind
left no doubt
summer is done for good –
the past is past.
I hunker through the turbulenceto await a clear night when once again
heaven empties itself into
a fragile crystalline dawn.



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”