Sacred Intoxication

goodnightgeese

dogwoodsunset51716

For half-an-hour he writes words upon a scrap of paper….
words in which the soul’s blood pours out, like the body’s blood from a wound.

He writes secretly this mad diary,
all his passion and longing,

his dark and dreadful gratitude to God,
his idle allegories,
the tales that tell themselves in his head;
the joy that comes on him sometimes (he cannot help it)
at the sacred intoxication of existence

~G.K. Chesterton in a letter to his fiancé

pinkbush2

 

I can grumble with the best of the them, especially over the last few months of watching presidential election politics unfold at this particular time in our country’s history. There is camaraderie in shared grumbling, as well as an exponential increase in dissatisfaction as everyone shares their frustrations over how we have come to this.

But I know better. I’ve seen where grousing leads and I can feel it aching in my bones when I’m steeped in it. The sky is grayer, the clouds are thicker, the night is darker–on and on to its overwhelming suffocating conclusion.

I have the privilege to choose joy, to turn away from the bleak and simply seek and bathe in the warmth and wonder of each new day. Like an opportunistic cat finding that one ray of sun and melting into it, I can absorb and equip myself to be radiant as well. It is not putting on a “happy face” — instead joy adopts me, holds me close in the tough times and won’t abandon me. Though at times joy may dip temporarily behind a cloud, I know it is there even when I can’t feel it.

Joy is mine to choose because joy has chosen me.

scottishkitty

cottonwood5

morninglight

The Scars of Living and Dying

springboardtrunk

woods29

Scars come in various sizes and shapes, some hidden, some quite obvious to all.  How they are inflicted also varies–some accidental, others therapeutic, and too many intentional.  The most insidious are the ones so deep inside,  no one can see or know they are there.

Back in our woodlot stands a sawed off stump of a cedar that was old growth in virgin forest over a hundred years ago.  One day the clearcut loggers came through our part of this rural county and took every tree they could to haul to the local sawmills to become beams and lumber for the growing homesteading population in the region.  This cedar once was grand and vast, covering an immense part of the forest floor, providing protection to trillium at its feet and finches’ nests and raptors hunting in its branches.   It nurtured its environment until other plans were made, and one day, axes fell on its sides to cut out the notches for the springboards where two loggers stood to man the saw which brought the tree down.  Where the wood went is anyone’s guess.  It could be one of the mighty beams supporting our old hay barn roof or it could have become the foundation flooring of a nearby one room school house.  It surely had a productive and meaningful life as part of a structure somewhere until rot or carpenter ants or fire brought it once again to its knees.

But the stump remains, a tombstone of remembrance of a once grand tree, the notch scars embedded deep in its sides, nursing new seedlings from its center and moss, lichen and ferns from its sides.

I come from logger stock so I don’t begrudge these frontier settlers their hard scrabble living, nor minimize their dangerous work in order to feed themselves and their families.  It’s just I’m struck by those scars even one hundred years later — such a visible reminder of what once was a vital living organism toppled for someone’s need and convenience.

Trees are not unique.  It happens to people too.  Everyday scars are inflicted for reasons hard to justify.  Too often I see them self-inflicted in an effort to feel something other than despair.  Sometimes they are inflicted by others out of fear or need for control.

Sometimes they are simply the scars of living, wounds accumulated along the pathway we tread, often to letting in Light where there was none before.

None of them are as deep and wide as the scars that were accepted on our behalf, nor as wondrous as the love that oozed from them, nor as amazing as the grace that abounds to this day because of the promise spelled out by them.  These are scars from the Word made Flesh.

As a result, that Tree lives.

 

woods14

59457784c7cff903c0d91dcc2c8670b8

loggers standing on springboards wedged into a large fir (courtesy of Campbell River Museum, British Columbia)

Catching Fire

sunsetburningbush

Unless the eye catch fire,
Then God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire
Then God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire
Then God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire,
Then God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire,
Then God will not be known.
~William Blake from “Pentecost”

sunrise222152

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment

Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
~T.S. Eliot from “East Coker”

dandysunset51162

 

Today, when we feel we are without hope,
when faith feels frail,
when love seems distant,
we wait, stilled,
for the moment we are lit afire~
when the Living God is
seen, heard, named, loved, known,
forever burning in our hearts
in this moment
and a lifetime.
Here and now ceases to matter.~EPG

puffsunset3

 

A Fling of Slim Thread

dandyweb

Perhaps imagination’s only a fling
of slim thread, so that Mind can walk
its own tightrope, also the heart—
in Chinese the word for mind
and the word for heart is the same.
~Margaret Gibson from “Middle Distance, Morning”

webleash

Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
~Walt Whitman from “A Noiseless Patient Spider”

whitehearts

sunset51116

The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unfolds a plan of her devising,
A thin premeditated rig
To use in rising.

And all that journey down through space,
In cool descent and loyal hearted,
She spins a ladder to the place
From where she started.

Thus I, gone forth as spiders do
In spider’s web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken thread to you
For my returning.
~E.B. White “Natural History”

cottonwood

Attached in ways I can not always see
but surely feel,
I still tend to go astray,
wander afar,
lose my way,
yet the thread remains
to return me
to where I belong.
A silken umbilical cord
continues to pump
what I need to stay alive,
anchoring me,
releasing me without letting go.
My soul hangs
by this gossamer thread~
this silken connection
to eternity.
~EPG
webdesign11

dandy430165

Teardrops in Our Eyes

wwuazalea514153

wwuazalea51216

wwuazalea514156

Some things are very dear to me–
Such things as flowers bathed by rain
Or patterns traced upon the sea
Or crocuses where snow has lain . . .
The iridescence of a gem,
The moon’s cool opalescent light,
Azaleas and the scent of them,
And honeysuckles in the night.
And many sounds are also dear–
Like winds that sing among the trees
Or crickets calling from the weir
Or Negroes humming melodies.
But dearer far than all surmise

Are sudden tear-drops in your eyes
~Gwendolyn Bennett — Sonnet 2

We human beings do real harm.
History could make a stone weep.
~Marilynne Robinson–Gilead

 

 

Created with the freedom to choose our own way, we tend to opt for the path of least resistance with the highest pay back. Hey, after all, we’re human and that’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it.

No road less traveled for most of us–instead we blindly head down the superhighway of what’s best for number one, no matter what the means of transportation, what it costs to get there, how seedy the billboards or how many warning signs appear, or where the ultimate destination takes us.

History is full of the piled-high wrecking yards of demolition remnants from crashes along the way.

It’s enough to make a stone weep and so we weep aplenty.
Certainly God wept and probably still does as we are very dear to Him.

He knew what He was doing and thought it good at the time.  Perhaps it still might be.

 

wwuazalea514158
yellowazalea
variegatedazalea

Never Full Enough

sunset251116

God empties himself
into the earth like a cloud.
God takes the substance, contours
of a man, and keeps them,
dying, rising, walking,
and still walking
wherever there is motion.
~Annie Dillard from “Feast Days”

marshmallows51116

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
      Not shaking the grass
~Ezra Pound

cottonwood1

What happens when people open their hearts? They get better.
~Haruki Murakami from Norwegian Wood

irisrain513158

I yearn
to be filled,
thirsting and hungry
day and night;
all that satisfies
is within reach,
offered up
by an emptying God
if only I open up,
no longer content
being hollow.
~EPG

dandy430163

scattered

irisinnard

rainbow51116

Abiding

sunset5716

dandysunsetclose3

Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
~Henry Lyte, from the hymn “Abide with Me”

lotsofsnow

Forgive me if I forget
with the birdsong and the day’s
last glow folding into the hands
of the trees, forgive me the few
syllables of the autumn crickets,
the year’s last firefly winking
like a penny in the shoulder’s weeds,
if I forget the hour, if I forget
the day as the evening star
pours out its whiskey over the gravel
and asphalt I’ve walked
for years alone, if I startle
when you put your hand in mine,
if I wonder how long your light
has taken to reach me here.
~Jake Adam York “Abide”

waterdrop

On my tiniest days,
when I am no more
than a dew drop
on the fingertip of a glass blade,
as transient as life feels,
we will walk hand in hand,
alongside
~abiding~
in Him whose Light reaches out
even to our depths.

morning113157