where gradual change breaks up the beautiful once again:
to wonder at the throes of dying,
to know the kindness of a glistening dawn
when all before seemed darkness,
when all to come seems ephemeral;
brokenness in a moment
…I have been younger in October
than in all the months of spring
walnut and may leaves the color
of shoulders at the end of summer
a month that has been to the mountain
and become light there
the long grass lies pointing uphill
even in death for a reason
that none of us knows…
my love is for lightness
of touch foot feather
the day is yet one more yellow leaf
and without turning I kiss the light
by an old well on the last of the month
gathering wild rose hips
in the sun
~W. S. Merwin from “The Love of October” from Migration
A wind gusts through shedding branches
stripping them bare
and carrying the leaves to yards
far away, to a diverse gathering
they have never known:
chestnut, cherry, birch, walnut, apple,
maple, parrotia, pear, oak, poplar
suddenly sharing the same fate and grave,
each wearing a color of its own,
soon to blend with the others
as all slowly melt to brown.
There is lightness in letting go,
for reasons none of us knows.
The passing of the summer fills again
my heart with strange sweet sorrow, and I find
the very moments precious in my palm.
Each dawn I did not see, each night the stars
in spangled pattern shone, unknown to me,
are counted out against me by my God,
who charges me to see all lovely things…
~Jane Tyson Clement from “Autumn”
I know I have missed too much over my life time:
so many one-of-a-kind masterpieces hung in the sky
at the beginning and the ending of each day
I never noticed, being asleep to beauty.
I no longer move oblivious
through the birthing and the dying of the days
without shedding a tear,
now knowing how precious the moments
and how rare and loving the Artist.
Summer ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the
Around; up above, what wind-walks! what
Of silk-sack clouds! Has wilder, willful-waiver
Meal-drift molded ever and melted across the skies?
~Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Hurrahing in Harvest”
In a patch of baked earth
At the crumbled cliff’s brink,
Where the parching of August
Has cracked a long chink,
Against the blue void
Of still sea and sky
Stands single a thistle,
Tall, tarnished, and dry.
Frayed leaves, spotted brown,
Head hoary and torn,
Was ever a weed
Upon earth so forlorn,
So solemnly gazed on
By the sun in his sheen
That prints in long shadow
Its raggedness lean?
From the sky comes no laughter,
From earth not a moan.
Erect stands the thistle,
Its seeds abroad blown.
~Robert Laurence Binyon –“The Thistle”
There isn’t much that thrives in a dry summer like this other than mounds of blackberry bushes and scattered clusters of thistle. They both are defended by thorns to keep them from being eaten by all but the most persistent and hungry grazing animals.
I admire and recognize such tenacity, knowing I too have held tightly to my own defenses to keep from being swallowed up. I approach these weeds with respect for the scars they can leave behind – their roots go deep, their seeds travel far.
We coexist because we must.
How else would beauty come from our bleeding wounds?
Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed?
Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our hearts?
Why are we reading, if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage and the hope of meaningfulness, and press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power?
What do we ever know that is higher than that power which, from time to time, seizes our lives, and which reveals us startlingly to ourselves as creatures set down here bewildered?
Why does death so catch us by surprise, and why love?
We still and always want waking.
~Annie Dillard from “Write Till You Drop”
I am bewildered by life most of the time. Anyone looking at these online pages can see the struggle as I wake each day to seek out what I’m called to and how to make this sad and suffering world a better place.
I have so little wisdom to offer a reader other than my own wrestling match with the mysteries we all face.
When a light does shine out through darkness, I am not surprised. It was there all the time, but I needed the eyes to see such beauty laid bare.
Oh, is it not enough to be
Here with this beauty over me?
My throat should ache with praise, and I
Should kneel in joy beneath the sky.
O beauty, are you not enough?
Why am I crying after love,
With youth, a singing voice, and eyes
To take earth’s wonder with surprise?
I, for whom the pensive night
Binds her cloudy hair with light,—
I, for whom all beauty burns
Like incense in a million urns?
O beauty, are you not enough?
Why am I crying after love?
~Sara Teasdale from “Spring Night”
When you stand before the most amazing sunset
or when you see the beauty of a human face,
whether it’s a little baby
or a lovely wise old person,
there is a haunting quality to it,
as though it’s not just complete in itself.
It’s a signpost to a larger truth
that is just around the corner,
just out of sight.
We can’t grip it,
can’t get our hands on it.
It’s as though we’re hearing the echo of a voice,
and we’d love to hear whose that voice is
and what story it’s telling.
Part of the joy of beauty
is the realization that it is part of a larger whole,
most of which appears to be just out of sight.
We are drawn forward toward something…
and left waiting, wondering.
~N.T. Wright from Life, God and Other Small Topics
Beauty is the link that connects,
the magnet that brings us home,
to look beyond,
to think more deeply,
to believe in something beyond our grasp~
Beauty leaves us crying after love
that bleeds for us
and heals all that is broken in us.