Ice Burns Like Fire

Ice burns,
and it is hard to the warm-skinned
to distinguish one sensation,
fire,
from the other,
frost.
~A. S. Byatt from Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
~Robert Frost “Fire and Ice”

Whether we are consumed by flames or frost,
if we rendered ash or crystal —
both burn.

Yet ashes remain ashes, only and forever
mere dust.

If encased in ice, a thaw can restore.
Frozen memories sear
like a sculpture meant to melt,
and thereby the imprisoned
are forever freed.

The First Gray Hair

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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

 

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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…

 

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Dusty

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God – the God who made the dust,
who made the stars,
who made the elements of which we are composed –
that same God chooses from the beginning to make his dwelling among us,
to live for all time like us, as a servant of the soil.

I am the dust of the earth,
but God declares that he is not too good,
not too proud,
for my dustiness.

~Daniel J. Stulac from Plough Quarterly No. 4: Earth

 

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What a piece of work is a man!
And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?” 
~ William Shakespeare in Hamlet’s monologue 

 

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This dust left of man:
earth, air, water and fire
prove inadequate
to quell its significance.

Only the transcendent hope
of eternal life restored
can breathe glory
into the plainest of ash.

And I am plainest of the plain.

 

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Lenten Grace — Then Water Enters

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

Rebuked, she turned and ran
uphill to the barn. Anger, the inner   
arsonist, held a match to her brain.   
She observed her life: against her will   
it survived the unwavering flame.
The barn was empty of animals.   
Only a swallow tilted
near the beams, and bats
hung from the rafters
the roof sagged between.

Her breath became steady
where, years past, the farmer cooled  
the big tin amphoræ of milk.
The stone trough was still
filled with water: she watched it  
and received its calm.

So it is when we retreat in anger:  
we think we burn alone
and there is no balm.
Then water enters, though it makes  
no sound.
~Jane Kenyon from “Portrait of a Figure Near Water”

There is a balm badly needed for souls scorched by their own anger.

Allowing anger to smolder only leaves us awash in ashes.  I am witness through my own eyes how my indignation inflames like an “inner arsonist”, leaving behind the shadows that forever cloud my vision.  I will not see clearly until I stop feeding the fire.

Time to let the water enter in, to flood and cool the flame, to cleanse, renew and forgive,  to restore a calm, silent and serene.

That is the balm badly needed.  That is the balm freely given.

I just need to apply it to where it hurts the most.

Lenten Grace — Quintessence of Dust

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

What a piece of work is a man!
And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”
~ William Shakespeare in Hamlet’s monologue 

This dust left of man:
earth, air, water and fire
prove inadequate
to quell its significance.

Only the transcendent hope
of eternal life restored
can breathe glory
into the plainest of ash.

We therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ;
who shall change our vile body, that it may be like unto his glorious body…
Committal service from The Common Book of Prayer