… Oh the heretics!
Not to remember Bethlehem,
or the star as bright as a sun,
or the child born on a bed of straw!
To know only of the dissolving Now!
Still they drowsed on –
citizens of the pure, the physical world,
they loomed in the dark: powerful
of body, peaceful of mind,
innocent of history.
Brothers! I whispered. It is Christmas!
And you are no heretics, but a miracle,
immaculate still as when you thundered forth
on the morning of creation!
~Mary Oliver from Goodness and Light
Christmas hath a darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas hath a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.
Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answering music
For all Angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.
~Christina Rossetti “Christmas Eve”
Today is the day
the fog we live within is overcome by Light:
no longer dwelling in heresy,
we celebrate the joy of the miracle of God brought low for us.
God with us, God for us.
A miraculous transformation.
My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.
The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.
Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.
~Robert Frost “My November Guest”
this month of deepening darkening,
to a recounting of gratitude
of daily thanksgiving and blessings~~
it is good to dwell on our gifts,
it is right to invite Sorrow
to sit in silence with us,
her tears blending with ours.
These dark-dwelled days
of bare stripped branches
feed our growing need
for the covering grace,
of His coming Light.
Praise the wet snow
Praise the shadow
my neighbor’s chimney casts on the tile roof
even this gray October day that should, they say,
have been golden.
the invisible sun burning beyond
the white cold sky, giving us
light and the chimney’s shadow.
god or the gods, the unknown,
that which imagined us, which stays
our murderous hand,
and gives us
in the shadow of death,
our daily life,
and the dream still
of goodwill, of peace on earth.
flow and change, night and
the pulse of day.
~Denise Levertov from “Gloria”, an excerpt from Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus
Yes. It is true.
Our murderous hand
is not stayed nearly enough.
We continue to witness the deaths of innocents,
so many homeless cast aside,
and what to do for refugees seeking sanctuary
who may not believe as we do,
who do not look or talk or act like
We are not them. They are not us.
But all image bearers.
Yet shadows are cast on the grayest of days
only because there is light still there,
hidden though it may be.
Be illuminated by mercy without the shadow cast.
Be stilled by the pulse of life in others who are not us.
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
~T.S. Eliot from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
up to their knees in
fog. The fog
cobwebs, the grass
leaning where deer
have looked for apples.
from brook to where
the top of the hill looks
over the fog, send up
not one bird.
So absolute, it is
no other than
happiness itself, a breathing
too quiet to hear.
~Denise Levertov, The Breathing
Up to my knees in fog ~
some days up to my eyebrows
and how much longer will my head stay in the light.
I am drawn to fog
that absorbs light and color
Doing chores this foggy morning is a baptism:
complete immersion in the soft exhalation
when all God’s people say Amen.
The sun-dipped isle was suddenly a sheep
Lost and stupid, a dense wet tremulous fleece.
~George Mackay Brown “Fog” from The Weather Bestiary
When I was young, fog felt oppressive,
as mournful as the fog horns sounding continually in the nearby bay.
Now in sixty years later
I appreciate fog for slowing me down
when life compels me to rush too fast.
When forced to take time,
I begin to notice what I missed before:
clouds descend to hug and kiss the ground
to bejewel everything they touch.
The dead and dying
become glorious in subtle beauty,
the farm all gossamer garland and transparent pearls.
This is the spot:—how mildly does the sun
Shine in between the fading leaves! The air
In the habitual silence of this wood
Is more than silent; and this bed of heath—
Where shall we find so sweet a resting-place?
Come, let me see thee sink into a dream
Of quiet thoughts protracted till thine eye
Be calm as water when the winds are gone
And no one can tell whither.
My sweet Friend,
We two have had such happy hours together
That my heart melts in me to think of it.
~ William Wordsworth, “Traveling” from The Collected Poems of William Wordsworth
Air so silent. Filtered sunlight on fading leaves.
So calmed with quieting thoughts and restfulness
that my eye is like still water:
within the daily barrage of headlines, broadcasts and opinion experts,
of threats and lies and redemption denied,
can I find calm and stillness?
Where are my sweet friends
for whom my heart melts in remembrance and gratitude?
This is the spot. This is our respite. This is where we find one another.
The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
August has been particularly wearing on so many folks this year, aging us beyond recognition after weeks of smoke-filled horizons. Those whose forests and homes have burned have nothing but cinders to return to. My concerns are mere in comparison, as the ash sent forth from such destruction is only irritant and inconvenience, rather than the residue of lost life.
Yet no one thrives in a world of fire and ash as we go gray as the sky, as if we have lived one summer too many.
I dream of what was: green and lush foliage and cool rains with the occasional welcome glimpse of a yellow, rather than red, sun.
Color the gray away to thwart the inevitable? Not this woman. I await a different beauty, even if only in my dreams…