Light splashed this morning on the shell-pink anemones swaying on their tall stems; down blue-spiked veronica light flowed in rivulets over the humps of the honeybees; this morning I saw light kiss the silk of the roses in their second flowering, my late bloomers flushed with their brandy. A curious gladness shook me.
So I have shut the doors of my house, so I have trudged downstairs to my cell, so I am sitting in semi-dark hunched over my desk with nothing for a view to tempt me but a bloated compost heap, steamy old stinkpile, under my window; and I pick my notebook up and I start to read aloud the still-wet words I scribbled on the blotted page: “Light splashed . . .”
…there is an opening of heart and soul, which in some sense the liturgy itself has made possible; and then it is that, just sometimes, someone takes a few more steps on that journey from the hem of his garment to the light of his countenance. ~Malcolm Guite from Poet’s Corner
We are like that desperate woman seeking healing by reaching out to touch the hem of His robe – ashamed to be so needy, hoping to go unnoticed, not wanting to bother anyone, but helpless in our circumstances – so very helpless.
He knows when we reach out in desperation; He feels it.
So He lifts us up in our journey to His light – from a touch of His hem to seeing His face.
It starts with reaching out.
43 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. 45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!”46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” Luke 8:43-48
Before the ending of the day, Creator of the world, we pray, That with thy wonted favour thou Wouldst be our guard and keeper now. . .
my heart panics not to be, as I long to be, the empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle. ~Mary Oliver from “Blue Iris”
Thou art the Iris, fair among the fairest, Who, armed with golden rod And winged with the celestial azure, bearest The message of some God. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from Flower-de-Luce
May your blooms be floriferous and in good form, Distinctive, with good substance, flare, and airborne, With standards and falls that endure, never torn. May you display many buds and blooms sublime, In graceful proportion on strong stalks each day, Gently floating above the fans and the fray. May you too reach toward the moon and stars, Bloom after bloom, many seasons in the sun, Enjoying your life, health, and each loved one, Until your ‘living days are artfully done. ~Georgia Gudykunst “Iris Blessing”
Whenever I allow my eye to peer into an iris, I need a flotation device and depth finder as I’m likely to get lost, sweeping and swooning through inner space of tunnels, canyons and corners, coming up for air and diving in again to journey into exotic locales draped in silken hues ~this fairy land on a stem~ so immersed in the possibilities of such an impossible blossom.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, in instructing catechumens, wrote: “The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon.” No matter what form the dragon may take, it is of this mysterious passage past him, or into his jaws, that stories of any depth will always be concerned to tell, and this being the case, it requires considerable courage at any time, in any country, not to turn away from the storyteller. ~Flannery O’Connor from “Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose”
But a dragon lies in ambush for the traveler; take care he does not bite you and inject you his poison of unbelief. Seeing this numerous company winning salvation, he selects and stalks his prey. In your journey to the Father of souls, your way lies past that dragon. How shall you pass him? You must have “your feet stoutly with the gospel of peace,” so that, even if he does bite you, he may not hurt you. ~St. Cyril of Jerusalem
…withyour feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:15
<Here there be dragons> was any place on the ancient maps that was unknown and unexplored- a place to avoid at all costs~ or for the daring and carefree, pointing to exactly the place to explore.
Here there be dragons marks the remainder of our days that dwell at the edge of life’s roadmap ~ unknown and unexplored ~ and often full of peril.
So many dragons to pass ready to swallow us whole if we make a wrong turn, or singe our britches if we stray beyond the known borders of the map.
So many dark valleys to pass through so many mysteries remain unsolved, so many stories of fateful journeys told.
We pull on our stoutest shoes, ready to trek where ever we are sent, not straying from the well-worn path of the faithful who have stayed out of the jaws of the dragons to tell the story.
Buttercup’s heart was a secret garden and the walls were very high.
Buttercup: We’ll never survive. Westley: Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.
Westley: Hear this now. I will always come for you. Buttercup: But how can you be sure? Westley: This is true love. You think this happens every day?
That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying “As you wish”, what he meant was, “I love you.” And even more amazing was the day she realized she truly loved him back. ~William Golding, quotes from The Princess Bride
How was I ever blessed to find just such a farm boy? A farm boy who says “I love you” in many ways every day, so the walls of my secret garden heart come tumbling down…
Bird on the bare branch, flinging your frail song on the bleak air, tenuous and brave – like love in a bleak world, and like love, pierced with everlastingness! O praise that we too may be struck through with light, may shatter the barren cold with pure melody and sing for thy sake till the hills are lit with love and the deserts come to bloom. ~Jane Tyson Clement from The Heart’s Necessities
Birdsong starts around 4:15 AM these days – at first gentle twittering and chirping in the near-dark becoming a full-throated Hallelujah chorus as the sun overcomes the horizon.
Visitors to our farm can’t quite get used to waking to the birds tuning up loudly every morning when this insistent symphony is launched. It is impossible to ignore by diving under the blankets and covering our head with pillows — nor should we.
I for one appreciate the reminder we should wake up singing to the glory of the sunrise. The light has returned. That is surely something to shout about.
Sunrise is an event that calls forth solemn music in the very depths of our nature, as if one’s whole being had to attune itself to the cosmos and praise God for the new day, praise him in the name of all the creatures that ever were or ever will be.
I look at the rising sun and feel that now upon me falls the responsibility of seeing what all my ancestors have seen, in the Stone Age and even before it, praising God before me. Whether or not they praised him then, for themselves, they must praise him now in me. When the sun rises each one of us is summoned by the living and the dead to praise God. ~Thomas Merton from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
I’m well aware not everyone greets the morning with praise; dawn signals the start of a new day of painful relationships, back-breaking work, and unending discouragement. I know people who keep themselves up until 3 AM just so they can sleep through the sunrise and somehow find a way to start their day at noon after all hint of morning has passed.
Instead I’m one of those barely tolerable “morning” persons, waking up without an alarm, ready to rise, a song in my heart and a smile on my lips. The gift of a new day and another try at life is a source of great joy and inspiration to me.
God keeps bringing the sun back to us, day in and day out. We, His creatures, are given yet another chance.