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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Irreducible Clarity

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If that’s what he means,’ says the student to the poetry teacher, ‘why doesn’t he just say it?’
‘If God is real,’ says the parishioner to the preacher, ‘why doesn’t he simply storm into our lives and convince us?’
The questions are vastly different in scale and relative importance,
but their answers are similar.
A poem, if it’s a real one, in some fundamental sense
means no more and no less than the moment of its singular music and lightning insight;
it is its own code to its own absolute and irreducible clarity.
A god, if it’s a living one, is not outside of reality but in it, of it,
though in ways it takes patience and imagination to perceive.
Thus the uses and necessities of metaphor,
which can flash us past our plodding resistance and habits into strange new truths.
Thus the very practical effects of music, myth, and image,
which tease us not out of reality, but deeper and more completely into it.
~Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer

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Raising the Lodged

After death, willing or not, the body serves,
entering the earth. And so what was heaviest
and most mute is at last raised up into song.
Wendell Berry

When abundant grasses in our hay field were hit hard with heavy rainfall today, they collapsed under the weight of the moisture.  Thousands of 3-4 foot tall tender stems are now lodged and flattened in undulating waves of green, bent over as if to embrace the earth from which they arose.  If the rain continues as predicted this week, the grass may not recover, unable to dry out enough to stand upright again.  It is ironic to lose a crop from too much of a good thing– heavy growth does demand,  but often cannot withstand, a quenching rain.  The grass simply keels over in community, broken and crumpled, unsuitable for cutting or baling into hay, and will melt back into the soil again.

However–if there are dry spells amid the showers over the next few days, with a breeze to lift the soaked heads and squeeze out the wet sponge created by layered forage–the lodged crop may survive and rise back up. It may be raised and lifted again, pushing up to meet the sun, the stems strengthening and straightening.

What once was heavy laden will lighten;
what was silent could once again move and sing with the wind.