Whom thou conceivst, conceived; yea thou art now Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother; Thou hast light in dark, and shutst in little room, Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb. ~John Donne “Annunciation”
Four years ago, as I headed out to the barn underneath the pink glow of a glorious Sunday morning sunrise, there was something unusual forming in the horizon above the foothills. It began as a solid gray streak across the rosy clouds, almost shadow-like, but then in a matter of a few minutes, at its origin, it became a vortex of brilliance surrounded by clear skies. It was, indeed, womb-like, as if something was imminently to be delivered from the heavens. Instead, it dissipated as quickly as it arose.
No trumpets sounding, not today…
I found out later this was most likely a phenomenon called a “fallstreak hole” and photos were published from across the region, but none seemed to quite capture this perspective from our farm.
Still, it didn’t make me think of rapture. It looked to me like John Donne’s “immensity cloistered” womb, His Light illuminating the internal darkness of this world, this Incarnation born of woman but heaven-sent.
He is no longer “shutst in little room” but continues to transform the wombs of our hearts.
It was November —
the month of crimson sunsets,
deep, sad hymns of the sea,
passionate wind-songs in the pines.
Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park
and, let that great sweeping wind
blow the fogs out of her soul. ~L.M. Montgomery from Anne of Green Gables
Midway through November
there is inevitability
about the descent into winter,
the enveloping darkness
shrinking the day,
the cloister of fog banks
rolling in, sticky in mind and soul.
The winds come brisk,
a reminder of a bitter cold
not long far off.
The fogs will clear to prepare me,
to open me up,
though chilled by searing waves,
to a coming advent of change
for my broken spirit and longing heart.
Beneath these fruit-tree boughs that shed Their snow-white blossoms on my head, With brightest sunshine round me spread Of spring’s unclouded weather, In this sequestered nook how sweet To sit upon my orchard-seat! ~William Wordsworth
Sequester has a different meaning these days — a “take no prisoners” government withholding of funds it hadn’t collected to begin with.
I prefer the “hidden away for safe-keeping” definition — exactly how I feel when I walk into the orchard. I am cloistered in blossoms exuberant with potential.
Sequestered nook. Words and times change but the essence of spring’s promise never does.