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”
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.
When you consider the radiance,
that it does not withhold itself
but pours its abundance without selection
into every nook and cranny not overhung or hidden;
when you consider that air or vacuum,
snow or shale, squid or wolf, rose or lichen,
each is accepted into as much light as it will take,
then the heart moves roomier,
the man stands and looks about,
the leaf does not increase itself above the grass,
and the dark work of the deepest cells
is of a tune with May bushes
and fear lit by the breadth of such
calmly turns to praise.
~A.R. Ammons from “The City Limits”
in fact, in truth,
–whether we accept or believe or not
makes not one whit of difference–
God Himself who pours His radiance
into every nook and cranny,
even into the dark corners of our doubting hearts.
He pulses there,
hidden and forgotten,
circulating life and light
until we find our voice
that turns, illuminated, to praise.
… And now in vast, cold, empty space, alone.
Yet hidden deep within the grown-up heart,
A longing for the first world, the ancient one …
Then, from His place of ambush, God leapt out.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
That’s the mystery of us.
But then there’s the mystery of God,
lying in ambush,
waiting for the fulfillment of time,
the nexus of his grace and our vulnerability.
~Kathleen Mulhern “Hangs My Helpless Soul on Thee”
Sometimes, during a long night of fitful sleep,
when nothing makes sense and worry takes over,
I ponder the mystery of how our brains were made to wonder at all.
I long for a simpler time,
for clarity of purpose,
for laughter through tears,
for gratitude even in hard times.
Yet as I toss and turn,
I know my God lies in wait for me,
as He watches for the moment
when being ambushed is exactly what I need.
Thou mastering me
God! giver of breath and bread;
World’s strand, sway of the sea;
Lord of living and dead;
Thou hast bound bones and veins in me, fastened me flesh,
And after it almost unmade, what with dread,
Thy doing: and dost thou touch me afresh?
Over again I feel thy finger and find thee.
~Gerard Manley Hopkins from “The Wreck of the Deutschland”
The downy thousands of tiny puffball galaxies
have returned strewn in our fields,
swirling in a universe of yellow stars
tossed from your Hand
and blown by your breath.
I’m blown away too ~
Your handiwork has knitted
field to flesh,
Your touch a moment of freshened grace.
And as you sit on the hillside, or lie prone under the trees of the forest, or sprawl wet-legged on the shingly beach of a mountain stream, the great door, that does not look like a door, opens.
~Stephen Graham from The Gentle Art of Tramping
That great door opens on the present, illuminates it as with a multitude of flashing torches.
~Annie Dillard (in response to the Graham’s quote) from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
There is a second or two in each day
(and some days I must watch hard for it)
when there is a moment of illumination
like a multitude of flashing torches,
when I can see just beyond what is here and now.
It feels like a promise.
When I miss it,
this opened door that is not a door~
too busy to notice-
too blinded to see-
having turned my face away,
nevertheless it happens without my witness.
It saddens and gladdens my heart to know that
it will be offered up again tomorrow.
Sometimes the mountain
is hidden from me in veils
of cloud, sometimes
I am hidden from the mountain
in veils of inattention, apathy, fatigue,
when I forget or refuse to go
down to the shore or a few yards
up the road, on a clear day,
that witnessing presence.
~Denise Levertov “Witness”
Even on the days like today when the mountain is hidden behind a veil of clouds, I have every confidence it is there. It has not moved in the night, gone to another county, blown up or melted down. My vision isn’t penetrating enough to see it through cloud cover today, but it will return to my line of sight, if not tomorrow, perhaps the next day. I know this and have faith it is true.
On the days when I am not bothering to look for it, too preoccupied so walk right past its obvious grandeur and presence, then it is reaching out to me and calling me back. There are times when I turn a corner on the farm and glance up, and there it is, a silent and overwhelming witness to beauty and steadfastness. I literally gasp at not noticing before, at not remembering how I’m blessed by it being there even at the times I can’t be bothered.
It witnesses my lack of witness and still stays put to hold me fast yet another day. And so I keep coming back to gaze, sometimes just at clouds, yearning to lift the veil, and lift my veil, just one more time.