For a long time
I was not even
in this world, yet
opened in perfect sweetness
in gracious repose,
in its own exotic fragrance,
in its huge willingness to give
something, from its small self,
to the entirety of the world...
~Mary Oliver from “The Poet Visits The Museum of Fine Arts”
This time of year, I go out to our flower garden twice a week and pick several fresh rosebuds for the bud vase on our kitchen table. This feels like a luxury to interrupt the natural unfolding of a blossom simply so it can be enjoyed indoors for a few days. Yet “its huge willingness to give something” grants me permission to do this. I am consoled that there will be more buds where those came from. The blooms will continue to grace our table until October when the first hard frost will sap them of all color and fragrance, leaving them deadened knots of brown curled petals. They give no more for seven long months.
I wait impatiently for that first spring bud to appear, forcing myself to wait several weeks before I begin rosebud harvesting. Although roses from the florist may be perfect color and long lasting, they are neither as sweet nor their scent as exotic as those growing in the soil right under our windows.
It is a wee joy receiving this humble gift from the garden. It is enough that a rosebush in gracious repose gave its small self long before I was and will continue long after me. I hope I am as willing to give something from my small self during my time here, and may it ever be as sweet.
He loved mountains,
or he had loved the thought of them marching
on the edge of stories brought from far away;
but now he was borne down by the insupportable weight of Middle-earth.
He longed to shut out the immensity in a quiet room by a fire.
~J.R.R Tolkien from Lord of the Rings
I am so high in the windy sun,
On the rock-boned back of the highest thing,
That the mountains under me, every one,
Are but wrinkled gestures …. westering.
~Thomas Hornsby Ferril from “One Mountain Hour”
Surrounded as we are in the northwest by so much raw and rugged beauty, I’m easily overwhelmed. My breath catches when I turn my face to these monoliths of stone and ice.
There is no sound up there except my heartbeat. No birds. Even breezes are silent with no trees or leaves to rustle. Twenty foot walls of snow.
I am content to gaze at these peaks from afar, now and again to visit awed at their feet, to listen for their stories of near-eternity.
I always retreat back home chastened.
So infinitesimal among such immensity.
It is at the edge of a petal that love waits…
The fragility of the flower
― William Carlos Williams from Spring and All
It is too easy to look for love deep in the heart of things, up front and center, at once showpiece and show off. We think of love as reverberating from within, loud enough for all the world to see and hear and know it is so.
But as I advance on life’s road, I have found love is quietly waiting at the periphery of people: so fragile and too easily bruised and torn – clinging to the very edge of our lives. It is ever-present as it protects and cherishes our core, fed by fine little veins of grace which branch out to feed our tenderest margins.
Love dwells on that delicate edge of us – that exquisite, ethereal and eternal edge of who we are.
There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.
It is too easy to become blinded to the glory surrounding us if we perceive it to be routine and commonplace.
I can’t remember the last time I celebrated a blade of grass, given how focused I am mowing it into conformity.
Too often I’m not up early enough to witness the pink sunrise or I’m too busy to take time to watch the sun paint the sky red as it sets or to witness the ever-changing cloud formations above.
I didn’t notice how the light was illuminating our walnut tree until I saw the perfect reflection of it in our koi pond — I had marveled at a reflection instead of the real thing itself.
I miss opportunities to rejoice innumerable times a day. It takes only a moment of recognition and appreciation to feel the joy, and in that moment time stands still. Life stretches a little longer when I stop to acknowledge the intention of creation as an endless reservoir of rejoicing. If a blade of grass, if a palette of color, if a chance reflection, if a movement of clouds — if all this is made for joy, then maybe so am I.
Even colorless, plain and commonplace me, created an image-bearer and intended reflector of light.
Maybe so am I.
You who believe,
and you who sometimes believe and sometimes don’t believe much of anything,
and you who would give almost anything to believe if only you could.
You happy ones and you who can hardly remember what it was like once to be happy.
You who know where you’re going and how to get there
and you who much of the time aren’t sure you’re getting anywhere.
“Get up,” he says, all of you – all of you! –
and the power that is in him is the power to give life not just to the dead like the child,
but to those who are only partly alive,
which is to say to people like you and me
who much of the time live with our lives closed to the wild beauty and miracle of things, including the wild beauty and miracle of every day we live
and even of ourselves.
~Frederick Buechner -Originally published in Secrets in the Dark
May I never just be partly alive…
To be fully alive to the wild beauty and miracle of every day,
I also must know disappointment and discouragement
It is part of the package:
the shadows as well as the brilliance.
I heed the call to “get up!” no matter what.
I am called to be alive this day.
I believe you’ll be able to say, as I can say today: ‘I’m glad I’m here.’
Believe me, all of you, the best way to help the places we live in is to be glad we live there.
~Edith Wharton from Summer
I’m reminded today and every day: I’m glad I’m here. I would choose no other place to be.
I’m especially thankful as I gaze out at this 360 degree landscape every morning and again as the evening light flames bright before fading at night.
This place — with its vast field vistas, its flowing grasses, its tall firs, its mountain backdrops — has been beautiful for generations of native people and homesteaders before I ever arrived thirty three years ago.
It will remain so for many more generations long after I am dust – gladness is the best fertilizer I can offer up to accompany God-given sun and rain.
May this land glow rich with gladness.