(And wait to watch the water clear, I may): I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.
I’m going out to fetch the little calf That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young, It totters when she licks it with her tongue. I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too. ~Robert Frost “The Pasture”
We all need an invitation to work together about now. In these times when it feels like everything is going to hell in a handbasket, we all have some picking up and cleaning and clearing to do — and we can accomplish more if we do it side by side.
The world is continually trying to renew itself despite our attempts to destroy it so we need to pay attention. The air and water can clear if we put in some effort, there is new life all around us ready to thrive if we tend it lovingly like a mother.
Come with me to do what needs to be done. You are invited. We sha’n’t be gone long.
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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.
Her fate seizes her and brings her down. She is heavy with it. It wrings her. The great weight is heaved out of her. It eases. She moves into what she has become sure in her fate now as a fish free in the current. She turns to the calf who has broken out of the womb’s water and its veil. He breathes. She licks his wet hair. He gathers his legs under him and rises. He stands, and his legs wobble. After the months of his pursuit of her now they meet face to face. From the beginnings of the world his arrival and her welcome have been prepared. They have always known each other. ~Wendell Berry “Her First Calf”
Seized, brought down, wrung from, heaved out, pursued, then eased:
there is nothing gentle in what it takes to be birthed a mother;
once emptied, mothering becomes sweetness
as never tasted before,
a filling back up
in a face to face meeting
destined from the beginnings of time.
I have known you,
I knew each of you,
you have known me all along,
born in covenant promise
and set free at birth.
During these Lenten days, (and every day),
we are reminded of the gift of our first Breath
and the invitation in our last Breath.
We are asked to stop living for self,
which can only lead to death,
and instead die to self,
so that we may live.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake,
he is the one who will save it. Luke 9:24
First breath can come
Before even fully delivered
Encased and swaddled tight
Nose bubbling, mouth gaping, swallowing hungrily
Building up to a moist initial gasp~
Air-filled and sliding free
Hands clenched, then fingers spread,
Ready to grasp and hold on tight to life,
Arms reaching out to stop the fall.
A lifetime then spent holding fast,
Eventually toppling frail and
Slowly adrift, floating unmoored
Reaching for unseen fruit no longer needed
Breath comes ragged, at times silenced
Then gulp and sigh, ready to
Loosen grasp as anchor is lifted, and with
Last soft breath,
Delivered gently into the hand of God.
All creatures are doing their best to help God in His birth of Himself.
Enough talk for the night. He is laboring in me;
I need to be silent for a while,
worlds are forming in my heart. ~Meister Eckhart from “Expands His Being”
The first day of spring is a traditional celebration of the rebirth of nature’s seasonal rhythms, and God’s inner renewal of our hearts.
I know some new spring mornings are pitch black with blustering winds and rain, looking and feeling like the bleakest of October mornings about to plunge into the death spiral of deep autumn and winter all over again.
No self-respecting God would birth Himself into something like this: a dawn as dark as night.
But this God would.
He labors in our darkest of hearts for good reason. We are unformed and unready to meet Him in the light, clinging as we do to our dark ways and thoughts. Though we are called to celebrate the renewal of springtime, it is just so much talk until we accept the change of being transformed ourselves.
We are silenced as He prepares us, as He prepares Himself for birth within us. The labor pains are His, not ours; we become awed witnesses to His first and last breath when He makes all things, including us, new again.
The world is reborn — even where dark reigned before, even where it is bleakest, especially inside our broken hearts now healing.
Although the snow still lingers Heaped on the ivy’s blunt webbed fingers And painting tree-trunks on one side, Here in this sunlit ride The fresh unchristened things appear, Leaf, spathe and stem, With crumbs of earth clinging to them To show the way they came But no flower yet to tell their name, And one green spear Stabbing a dead leaf from below Kills winter at a blow. ~Andrew Young, “Last Snow”
The snow ice-encrusts the morning
before it bids farewell under warming sunlight.
Winter encases spring
to grasp one last moment