Fingers of twilight shadow
begin to reach over the hill
crawling down through the field
up unto the bank of blackberries
covering fences along the alder grove.
The horses chew their last
leaves of clover before
coming to the barn for night, eyelids heavy,
relaxed and full, drowsy with spring evening
peace at hand and hoof.
A sudden change in the air forces
their heads up and ears forward;
they form a line, staring at the hilltop
above them, riveted to the spot, alert
to an coming intruder, unfamiliar and foreign.
The roar is intermittent, like a warm wind
rattling a barn roof, but inconstant;
then peaking over the crest of the hill
a rounded top of technicolor glory:
The hot air balloon rises.
The horses silenced, baffled, fascinated;
no alpine instinct prepares their response
to this wizard’s act from Oz in their own backyard.
The basket riders wave and laugh at the equine audience below
in formation with golden noses in the air and white manes blowing in the breeze.
The balloon summits the hill, dipping low, almost touchable
before moving back up to race the sunset,
and search out other pastures, other valleys and hills.
The horses released from the spell
leap in response, snowy tails high, noses flared-
To race up the hill to catch impending darkness,
night mares cavort, float suspended
until their air is let out, gently, in softening snorts,
to settle down in a shavings bed in the barn
where night, blissful, becomes ordinary again.
The world does not need words. It articulates itself in sunlight, leaves, and shadows. The stones on the path are no less real for lying uncatalogued and uncounted. The fluent leaves speak only the dialect of pure being.
The sunlight needs no praise piercing the rainclouds, painting the rocks and leaves with light, then dissolving each lucent droplet back into the clouds that engendered it. The daylight needs no praise, and so we praise it always– greater than ourselves and all the airy words we summon. ~Dana Giola from “Words”
The words the world needs is the Word itself;
because He breathed breath into us
and said that it was good.
Whatever we have to say about His Creation
pales compared to His it is good
But we try
over and over again
to use words of wonder and praise
to express our awe and gratitude and amazement
while painted golden by His breath of Light.
At times these days I think of the way the sun would set on the farmland around our small house in the autumn. A view of the horizon, the entire circle of it, if you turned, the sun setting behind you, the sky in front becoming pink and soft, then slightly blue again, as though it could not stop going on in its beauty, then the land closest to the setting sun would get dark, almost black against the orange line of the horizon, but if you turn around, the land is still available to the eye with such softness, the few trees, the quiet fields of cover crops already turned, and the sky lingering, lingering, then finally dark. As though the soul can be quiet for those moments.
I have learned, from those much wiser than I, to recognize moments meant for quieting. The news of the world constantly rushes past; there is suffering beyond imagining in the lives of a few I know and millions I don’t know. There is much I can do to make a difference but so much more beyond my feeble reach.
Instead of feeling abandoned on the shores of overwhelm, I seek out the familiar, the routine, and the ordinary, immersed in the recurring patterns of the day and night as the world turns on its axis. I turn myself around to witness what surrounds me.
It is your birthday and there are many presents to open.The world is to be opened.
You are alive. It needn’t have been so. It wasn’t so once, and will not be forever. But it is so now.
And what is it like:
to be alive in this one place of all places anywhere where life is?
Live a day of it and see.
Take any day and LIVE IT.
Nobody claims that it will be entirely painless, but no matter.
It is the first day because it has never been before
and the last day because it will never be again.
BE ALIVE. ~Frederick Buechner from The Alphabet of Grace
Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. ~Mary Oliver from Red Bird
To do the useful thing,
to say the courageous thing,
to contemplate the beautiful thing:
that is enough for one man’s life. ― T.S. Eliot, The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism
During these turbulent times
(and there have been many in my 63 years)
when too many regret living and quit,
when too many are deprived of even taking a first breath,
when too many live life shrouded in pain and sorrow~
I tend to forget each day is a gift to be opened and savored.
Each day a first day, a last day, a birthday of amazing grace.
I myself was never expected to be:
seven years of my parents wanting and not conceiving.
The papers to adopt a baby boy were ready to sign
when my mother began feeling sick in the mornings
and she celebrated her misery.
I think now of that baby boy and wonder whose arms took him in
when I unexpectedly came and filled my parents’.
I am alive, by God,
it needn’t have been so, but is so now.
I don’t want to waste a moment of astonishment
and breathe each breath, amazed.
How beautiful the things are that you did not notice before! A few sweetclover plants Along the road to Bellingham, Culvert ends poking out of driveways, Wooden corncribs, slowly falling, What no one loves, no one rushes towards or shouts about, What lives like the new moon, And the wind Blowing against the rumps of grazing cows. ~Robert Bly from “Like the New Moon I Will Live My Life”
Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. …to get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. ~Abraham Joshua Hershel
Simply driving to work becomes a sacramental act. This is not the hour long dense traffic commute I tolerated in the city thirty years ago – this is thirty minutes of noticing the expanse of the land against the sky, the light as it banishes the darkness, the harmony of animals existing on the soil.
It is a sacrament to notice “what no one loves, no one rushes towards or shouts about” and never take it for granted. It is all gift; it is all grace.
The miraculous is not extraordinary, but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread.
Whoever really has considered the lilies of the field or the birds of the air, and pondered the improbability of their existence in this warm world within the cold and empty stellar distances, will hardly balk at the turning of water into wine – which was, after all, a very small miracle.
We forget the greater and still continuing miracle by which water (with soil and sunlight) is turned into grapes. ~Wendell Berry from Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community
The miraculous escapes our attention every day ~
we are blinded to the wonder of it all,
accepting as mundane that which warrants our awe and overwhelm.
How can the scales be lifted from our eyes?
How can we be offered up such astonishment and never be satiated?