The Grass of Heaven

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Green hills, 
embroidered
mist, rich
rising ridge
fog filled
plunging fields
cattle, 
black, weightless
rise poised
from bare bank
grazing
the grass of
heaven
~Steven Federle

 

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May is always an overwhelming time of year – my senses work overtime with the feel of cool air mornings and evenings, the fragrance of blossoms everywhere, the dawn chorus of birdsong and the nightly coyote choir and peeper swamp symphony, the softness of mist rising from warm ground and the explosion of green – everywhere.

We are happily drowning in green – so much to be done quickly:  mowed, gathered, stored, treasured.

Surely heaven too is mostly green.  It can be no other.

 

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Breadth and Depth

 

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Autumn is the eternal corrective. 
It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity;
but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance. 
What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop
and fail to see the span of this world
and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?
~Hal Borland

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Summer, waning and wistful, has packed up and moved on without bidding adieu or looking back over its shoulder.  Cooling winds have carried in darkening clouds spewing long overdue rain. Though we need a good drenching there are still onions and potatoes to pull from the ground, apples to harvest, tomatoes not yet ripened, corn cobs just too skinny to pick.

I’m not ready to wave goodbye to sun-soaked clear skies and the lush richness of summer.

The overhead overcast is heavily burdened with clues of what is to come: earlier dusk, the feel of moisture-filled air, the deepening graying hues, the briskness of breezes.  There is no negotiation possible.   I steel myself and get ready, wrapping myself in the soft shawl of inevitability.

So autumn advances with the clouds, taking up residence where summer has left off.  Though there is still clean up of the overabundance left behind, autumn has brought its own unique plans for display of a delicious palette of hues. It is an eternal corrective for what ails us.

The truth is we’ve seen nothing yet.

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A Wider Horizon

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October is the fallen leaf,
but it is also a wider horizon more clearly seen.
It is the distant hills once more in sight,
and the enduring constellations above them once again.
~ Hal Borland

I bid October good-bye reluctantly
to face forward into the November darkening .
Morning and evening chores with flashlight in hand,
I follow its bouncing beam down slick farm paths,
merging with surrounding shadow.

Summer is mere memory now;
all color drained from
leaves fallen, dissolving
in frost and rain.

When the light rises on the hills,
I feel a veil lift enough
that I am able to see
so far beyond my reach.
The horizon extends on and on forever
and I will endure another winter.

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The Object of a New Year

photo by Nate Gibson
photo by Nate Gibson

The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.
– G.K. Chesterton

We hoped for some timely snow for a white Christmas but had to be content with a brief flurry that didn’t stick.  Then there was more hope yesterday on New Year’s Eve with more flurries and a few little skiffs left behind here and there, but nothing much.  Instead of snow that stuck, we were stuck with the same old muddy bare ground and dead grass and weary frost-bitten plants.

It is natural to desire an easy transformation of the old and dirty to something new and beautiful:  an all clean pristine white cottony sheet covering thrown over everything, making it look completely different than before.  Similarly, at the tick of the clock past midnight on New Years’ Eve, we hope for just such an inner transformation as well, a fresh start, a leaving behind of the not-so-good from the past and moving ahead to the surely-it’ll-be-better in the future.

But it doesn’t stick, even if there is a flurry of good intentions and a skiff of newness plopped down here and there.  Even if we find ourselves in the midst of blizzard conditions, unable to see six inches ahead and immobilized by the furious storms of life,  that accumulation eventually will melt, leaving behind even more mud and raw mess.

It isn’t how flawless, how clean, or how new this year will be, but rather how to ensure our soul transformation sticks tight, unmelting from within, even when the heat is turned up and the sweat drips.  This is not about a covering thrown over the old and dirty but a full blown overhaul in order to never to be the same again.

I lift my eyes to the hills where the snow stays year round: sometimes more,  with a few hundred new inches over several weeks, or sometimes less,  on the hottest days of summer.  Our new souls this new year must be built of that same resiliency, withstanding what each day may bring, cold or hot.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…within my soul.