Only More Mysterious

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I came here to study hard things – rock mountain and salt sea – and to temper my spirit on their edges.  “Teach me thy ways, O Lord” is, like all prayers, a rash one, and one I cannot but recommend.

These mountains — Mount Baker and the Sisters and Shuksan, the Canadian Coastal Range and the Olympics on the peninsula — are surely the edge of the known and comprehended world….

That they bear their own unimaginable masses and weathers aloft, holding them up in the sky for anyone to see plain, makes them, as Chesterton said of the Eucharist, only the more mysterious by their very visibility and absence of secrecy.
~Annie Dillard from Holy the Firm

 

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Sometimes the mountain
is hidden from me in veils
of cloud, sometimes
I am hidden from the mountain
in veils of inattention, apathy, fatigue,
when I forget or refuse to go
down to the shore or a few yards
up the road, on a clear day,
to reconfirm
that witnessing presence.
~Denise Levertov  “Witness”

 

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Even on the days like today when the mountain is hidden behind a veil of clouds, I have every confidence it is there.  It has not moved in the night, gone to another county, blown up or melted down.  My vision isn’t penetrating enough to see it through cloud cover today, but it will return to my line of sight, if not tomorrow, perhaps the next day.  I know this and have faith it is true.

On the days when I am not bothering to look for it, too preoccupied so walk right past its obvious grandeur and presence, then it is reaching out to me and calling me back.  There are times when I turn a corner on the farm and glance up, and there it is, a silent and overwhelming witness to beauty and steadfastness.  I literally gasp at not noticing before, at not remembering how I’m blessed by it being there even at the times I can’t be bothered.

It witnesses my lack of witness and, so mysterious, stays put to hold me fast yet another day.  And so I keep coming back to gaze, sometimes just at clouds, yearning to lift the veil, and lift my veil, just one more time.

 

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A Delicious Day

 

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I’m glad I am alive, to see and feel
The full deliciousness of this bright day,
That’s like a heart with nothing to conceal;
The young leaves scarcely trembling; the blue-grey
Rimming the cloudless ether far away;
Brairds, hedges, shadows; mountains that reveal
Soft sapphire; this great floor of polished steel
Spread out amidst the landmarks of the bay.
~William Allingham from “On a Forenoon of Spring”

 

Spring is wrapping itself up
in blue skies and cotton candy dawns,
rows of crop sprouts
dots of fruit among fresh leaves.
There is hope renewed here in water and landscape,
a foretaste of heaven.

 

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Freefall

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,

as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,

so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,

knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.
~Denise Levertov

This week three local families find themselves in freefall,
losing a child to mangled metal,
one moment so much alive,
the next irretrievably gone.

It must feel like solid ground has dropped away
like those dreams of falling
when wakened by startled thud
upon a pillow.

May God’s embrace
cushion their hard landing,
His unearned grace sufficient
to keep them afloat in a vast ocean of tears.

It’s Life We Harvest

mapleWWU
vine maple WWU

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madrona tree berries –WWU

…still it’s not death that spends
So tenderly this treasure
To leaf-rich golden winds,
But life in lavish measure.

No, it’s not death this year
Since then and all the pain.
It’s life we harvest here
(Sun on the crimson vine).
The garden speaks your name.
We drink your joys like wine.
~May Sarton, from “The First Autumn”

burning bush-- WWU
burning bush– WWU
red fringed maple leaf --WWU
red fringed maple leaf –WWU

Is there something finished?  And some new beginning on the way?

I cried over beautiful things, knowing no beautiful thing lasts…
~Carl Sandburg, from “Falltime” and “Autumn Movement”

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WWU tree -Haskell Plaza

WWU tree

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WWU tree in Haskell plaza

I praise the fall:

It is the human season. On this sterile air
Do words outcarry breath: the sound goes on and on.
I hear a dead man’s cry from autumn long since gone.

I cry to you beyond upon this bitter air.
~Archiblad MacLeish from “Immortal Autumn”

College Way, WWU
College Way, WWU

 

 

 

The Bleeding Heart of Sunset

photo by Nate Gibson
photo by Nate Gibson

Very still and mild it was, wrapped in a great, white, brooding silence — a silence which was yet threaded through with many little silvery sounds which you could hear if you hearkened as much with your soul as your ears. The girls wandered down a long pineland aisle that seemed to lead right out into the heart of a deep-red, overflowing winter sunset.”
~ L.M. Montgomery from Anne of the Island

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If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.
~G. K. Chesterton

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photo by Nate Gibson
I wonder at a northwest sunset
evolving from gray haze to warm into golds,
then pinks and oranges to bleeding red. 
So too my heart overflows,
pulsing out the love
poured into me
from God’s endless grace.

I too,
once graying at the end of the day,
will be covered with roses.