It is a dark fall day. The earth is slightly damp with rain. I hear a jay. The cry is blue. I have found you in the story again. Is there another word for “divine”? I need a song that will keep sky open in my mind. If I think behind me, I might break. If I think forward, I lose now. Forever will be a day like this Strung perfectly on the necklace of days. Slightly overcast Yellow leaves Your jacket hanging in the hallway Next to mine. ~Joy Harjo “Fall Song”
In the string of fall days,
each differs from the one before
and the one that comes after,
a transitional linkage to winter
at once gradual and unrelenting.
If I were to try to stop time,
hold tight a particular moment,
this necklace of days would break and scatter,
as the connection depends
on what was before
what is now
and what is to come.
Let this day’s air praise the Lord— Rinsed with gold, endless, walking the fields, Blue and bearing the clouds like censers, Holding the sun like a single note Running through all things, a basso profundo Rousing the birds to an endless chorus.
In joy. For it is he who underlies The rock from its liquid foundation, The sharp contraries of the giddy atom, The unimaginable curve of space, Time pulling like a patient string, And gravity, fiercest of natural loves.
At his laughter, splendor riddles the night, Galaxies swarm from a secret hive, Mountains split and crawl for aeons To huddle again, and planets melt In the last tantrum of a dying star.
Sit straight, let the air ride down your backbone, Let your lungs unfold like a field of roses, Your eyes hang the sun and moon between them, Your hands weigh the sky in even balance, Your tongue, swiftest of members, release a word Spoken at conception to the sanctum of genes, And each breath rise sinuous with praise.
Now, shout from the stomach, hoarse with music, Give gladness and joy back to the Lord, Who, sly as a milkweed, takes root in your heart. ~from Robert Siegel’s poetry in Flourish Magazine 2010
Judging from the long lines at grocery store check-out aisles, this is the week of the stomach and feasting. Feeling over-full after a sumptuous meal on Thursday does nothing to satisfy the ravenous hunger we feel all the rest of the year.
It is, in fact, the heart that must be filled continuously, not the stomach three times a day. Our stomach may shout and growl, but it is the heart that yearns and mourns for Love lost, Love regained, Love pondered and treasured up.
May He take root in our hearts this week and always as our stomach is silenced by the feast only He can serve.
They sing their dearest songs — He, she, all of them — yea, Treble and tenor and bass, And one to play; With the candles mooning each face…. Ah, no; the years O! How the sick leaves reel down in throngs!
They clear the creeping moss — Elders and juniors — aye, Making the pathways neat And the garden gay; And they build a shady seat…. Ah, no; the years, the years; See, the white storm-birds wing across!
They are blithely breakfasting all — Men and maidens — yea, Under the summer tree, With a glimpse of the bay, While pet fowl come to the knee…. Ah, no; the years O! And the rotten rose is ript from the wall.
They change to a high new house, He, she, all of them — aye, Clocks and carpets and chairs On the lawn all day, And brightest things that are theirs…. Ah, no; the years, the years; Down their carved names the rain-drop ploughs. ~Thomas Hardy “During Wind and Rain”
A waning November moon reluctantly rose, dimming from the full globe of the night before. I drive a darkening country road, white lines sweeping past, aware of advancing frost in the evening haze, anxious to return home to familiar warmth and light.
Nearing a county road corner, slowing to a stop, I glanced aside where
a lonely rural cemetery sits expectant. Through open iron gates and tenebrous headstones, there in the middle path, incongruous,
car’s headlights beamed bright. I puzzled, thinking:
lovers or vandals would seek inky cover of night. Instead, these lights focused on one soul alone, kneeling graveside,
a hand resting heavily on a stone, head bowed in prayer. This stark moment of solitary sorrow,
a visible grieving of a heart illuminated by twin beams.
This benediction of mourning
as light pierced the blackness; gentle fingertips traced
the engraved letters of a beloved name. Feeling touched
as uneasy witness, I pull away to drive deeper into the night,
struggling to see despite
my eyes’ thickening mist.
~Emily Gibson – “Grief Illuminated”
Find a quiet rain. Then a green spruce tree. You will notice that nearly every needle has been decorated with a tiny raindrop ornament. Look closely inside the drop and there you are. In color. Upside down. Raindrops have been collecting snapshots since objects and people were placed, to their surprise, here and there on earth.
…even if we are only on display for a moment in a water drop as it clings to a pine needle, it is expected that we be on our best behavior, hair combed, jacket buttoned, no vulgar language. Smiling is not necessary, but a pleasant attitude is helpful, and would be, I think, appreciated. ~Tom Hennen from “Outdoor Photos”
… We are, as we have always been, dangerous creatures, the enemies of our own happiness. But the only help we have ever found for this, the only melioration, is in mutual reverence. God’s grace comes to us unmerited, the theologians say. But the grace we could extend to one another we consider it best to withhold in very many cases, presumptively, or in the absence of what we consider true or sufficient merit (we being more particular than God), or because few gracious acts, if they really deserve the name, would stand up to a cost-benefit analysis. This is not the consequence of a new atheism, or a systemic materialism that afflicts our age more than others. It is good old human meanness, which finds its terms and pretexts in every age. The best argument against human grandeur is the meagerness of our response to it, paradoxically enough.
And yet, the beautiful persists, and so do eloquence and depth of thought, and they belong to all of us because they are the most pregnant evidence we can have of what is possible in us. ~ Marilynne Robinson from “What Are We Doing Here?”
Some days I choose to trudge along dry and cranky — each step an effort, each thought a burden, each moment an opportunity to grump about myself and my fellow man. It is good to be reminded I am preserved, as is, for an instant, in the camera eye of the raindrops I pass, each snapping an instagram photo of my attitude.
It wouldn’t hurt me to smile out of a sense of grace and forgiveness, even if the events of the day may not call for it. At least those smiles, reflected in the lens of each raindrop, will soak the soil at the moment it is let go to fall earthward.
There is no better place for the gift of grace to bloom and grow, ready for a new day.
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies,
those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
~ John Milton
Our farm looked like it had a remodel update this past week by the winds and rain, covering the yard with a yellow brown shag carpet of leaves thicker than ever I remember in our two 25 years here. This transformation is temporary until the leaves start to rot under the burden of endless days of wintry drizzle and freezing weather, but transcendent over plain green sod nevertheless.
I need to remind myself that only 8 months ago, none of these leaves even existed. They were mere potential in bud form, about to burst and grow in a silent awesome explosion of green and chlorophyll. After their brief tenure as shade and protection and fuel factory for their tree, last week they rained to the ground in torrents, letting go of the only security they had known.
Now they are compost, returning to the soil to feed the roots of the trees that gave them life to begin with.