The Moment of Detachment

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This dandelion has long ago surrendered its golden petals, and has reached its crowning stage of dying – the delicate seed-globe must break up now – it gives and gives till it has nothing left.

The hour of this new dying is clearly defined to the dandelion globe:  it is marked by detachment.  There is no sense of wrenching:  it stands ready, holding up its little life, not knowing when or where or how the wind that bloweth where it listeth may carry it away. It holds itself no longer for its own keeping, only as something to be given; a breath does the rest…
~Lillias Trotter from  “Parables of the Cross”

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Might I ever stand “ready” as a field of dandelions in full-puff, seeds preparing to detach in response to a breeze or a breath?

This readiness feels very much like the peak of labor in childbirth, a moment that feels as if time has stopped – the inevitability that one can never go back to the way things were. This “crowning” of the new life as it emerges means the surrender of the old life and its resultant emptying.

May I turn my head full on to the breeze, giving and giving until I have nothing left.

Only then, only then, is there a moment of detachment that leads me to eternity.

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The Moment of Balance

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What follows the light is what precedes it:
the moment of balance, of dark equivalence.

But tonight we sit in the garden in our canvas chairs
so late into the evening –
why should we look either forward or backwards?
Why should we be forced to remember:
it is in our blood, this knowledge.
Shortness of the days; darkness, coldness of winter.
It is in our blood and bones; it is in our history.
It takes a genius to forget these things.
~Louise Glück from “Solstice”

 

Today we stand, wavering,
on the cusp of light and shadow~
this knowledge of what’s to come
rests in our bones as we struggle
to untangle our feet of clay
from sinking like a stone, mired and stuck.
As darkness begins to claim our days again,
we seek to rise like a full moon illuminating the long night,
burnishing our readiness for eternity.

 

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A Fling of Slim Thread

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Perhaps imagination’s only a fling
of slim thread, so that Mind can walk
its own tightrope, also the heart—
in Chinese the word for mind
and the word for heart is the same.
~Margaret Gibson from “Middle Distance, Morning”

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Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
~Walt Whitman from “A Noiseless Patient Spider”

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The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unfolds a plan of her devising,
A thin premeditated rig
To use in rising.

And all that journey down through space,
In cool descent and loyal hearted,
She spins a ladder to the place
From where she started.

Thus I, gone forth as spiders do
In spider’s web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken thread to you
For my returning.
~E.B. White “Natural History”

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Attached in ways I can not always see
but surely feel,
I still tend to go astray,
wander afar,
lose my way,
yet the thread remains
to return me
to where I belong.
A silken umbilical cord
continues to pump
what I need to stay alive,
anchoring me,
releasing me without letting go.
My soul hangs
by this gossamer thread~
this silken connection
to eternity.
~EPG
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Infinity in the Palm of My Hand

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To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the Palm of your Hand,
and Eternity in an Hour.

When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light 
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night 
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day

~William Blake from “Auguries of Innocence”

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To fall head long into the depths
of a dandelion puff ball,
captured in its intricacy,
a seeded symmetry
lined with delicate dewdrop drizzle.

To know the cosmos is contained
within the commonplace,
the God of Light and Living Water
no further away
than my back yard
and the palm of my hand.

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Between Midnight and Dawn: The Unseen Seen

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So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthinians 4: 18

 

I believe I will never quite know.
Though I play at the edges of knowing,
truly I know
our part is not knowing,
but looking, and touching, and loving,
which is the way I walked on,
softly,
through the pale-pink morning light.
~Mary Oliver from Bone

 

It is in the early morning hour that the unseen is seen,
and that the far-off beauty and glory,
vanquishing all their vagueness,
move down upon us till they stand
clear as crystal close over against the soul.

~Sarah Smiley

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In the moments before dawn
when glow gently pink-tints
the inside of horizon’s eyelids,
the black of midnight
waxes to mere shadow:

that old faded midnight
That frightened but an hour. (from Emily Dickinson)

Gloaming dusk
fades into gleaming dawn,
a backlit silhouette stark
as the darkening earth
slowly opens her eyes
to greet in rebirth
a new and glorious morn.

 

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During this Lenten season, I will be drawing inspiration from the new devotional collection edited by Sarah Arthur —Between Midnight and Dawn

Between Midnight and Dawn: Eternity Awaits

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The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
~Matthew 13:44-46

 

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
~R.S. Thomas “The Bright Field”

 

The gospel is not about giving up and going without for its own sake; it is about making room for something wonderful.  Here (in Thomas’ poem) we discover that what we thought was lost and receding is in reality still ahead of us; we are not declining towards a sunset, but traveling towards the dawn!
~Malcolm Guite from The Word in the Wilderness: A Poem a Day for Lent and Easter

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I too must learn to turn aside,
and truly see, as if for the first and last time,
the brightness that illuminates even the darkest day.
We approach the dawn, even when it is midnight.
We know the Light is there, even if hidden, buried in that bright field.

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During this Lenten season, I will be drawing inspiration from the new devotional collection edited by Sarah Arthur —Between Midnight and Dawn

God Among Us: Space for the Uncontained God

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The Annunciation by Henry Owassa Tanner (Philadelphia Art Museum)

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary…”
Luke 1: 28-30, 38

 

Rejoice, you through whom joy shall shine forth.
Rejoice, O Star revealing the Sun.
Rejoice, O Womb of divine Incarnation.
Rejoice, you through whom creation is renewed.
Rejoice, you through whom the Creator is born a Babe.

‘Hail, space for the uncontained God’
from Akathistos Hymn, translated from Greek

…to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power –
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.

Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love –

but who was God.
~Denise Levertov from “Annunciation”

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The uncontained contained
the infinite made finite
the Deliverer delivered
the Eternal here and now.
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The angel Gabriel from heaven came
His wings as drifted snow
His eyes as flame
“All hail” said he “thou lowly maiden Mary
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria, Gloria

“For known a blessed mother thou shalt be
All generations laud and honor thee
Thy Son shall be Emanuel
By seers foretold
Most highly favored maid,” Gloria, Gloria

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,
“My soul shall laud and magnify His holy name.”
Most highly favored lady, Gloria, Gloria
~Lyrics “Gabriel’s Message” 

 

Annunciation --James Tissot
Annunciation –James Tissot

How do you capture the wind on the water?
How do you count all the stars in the sky?
How do you measure the love of a mother
Or how can you write down a baby’s first cry?

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Silent night, holy night, all is calm and all is bright
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born

Shepherds and wise men will kneel and adore him
Seraphim round him their vigil will keep
Nations proclaim him their Lord and their Saviour
But Mary will hold him and sing him to sleep

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Silent night, holy night, all is calm and all is bright
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born

Find him at Bethlehem laid in a manger
Christ our Redeemer asleep in the hay
Godhead incarnate and hope of salvation
A child with his mother that first Christmas Day

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Silent night, holy night, all is calm and all is bright
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born