Hope is borne on wings. Look at the trees. They turn to gold for a brief while, then lose it all each November. Through the cold months, they stand, take the worst weather has to offer. And still, they put out shy green leaves come April, come May. ~Barbara Crooker from “Sometimes I am Startled Out of Myself”
Trees have wings too — and not only the feathered kind that rest briefly in their branches before taking flight again, to wheel and glide on the breeze.
The wings on trees don’t fly until fall. They bud and blossom and fledge and wave in the wind and turn golden and then, like birds they are released to the sky.
Just before the green begins there is the hint of green a blush of color, and the red buds thicken the ends of the maple’s branches and everything is poised before the start of a new world, which is really the same world just moving forward from bud to flower to blossom to fruit to harvest to sweet sleep, and the roots await the next signal, every signal every call a miracle and the switchboard is lighting up and the operators are standing by in the pledge drive we’ve all been listening to: Go make the call. ~Stuart Kestenbaum “April Prayer”
The buds have been poised for weeks
and then, as if responding to the Conductor’s downstroke,
let go of all their pent up potential~
exploding with harmonious energy
enough to carry them all the way to autumn
when again they let go
and are gone with the wind.
At sundown when a day’s words have gathered at the feet of the trees lining up in silence to enter the long corridors of the roots into which they pass one by one thinking they remember the place as they feel themselves climbing away from their only sound while they are being forgotten by their bright circumstances they rise through all the rings listening again afterward as they listened once and they come to where the leaves used to live during their lives but have gone now and they too take the next step beyond the reach of meaning ~ W. S. Merwin “To a Leaf Falling in Winter”
“Last forever!” Who hasn’t prayed that prayer? You were lucky to get it in the first place. The present is a freely given canvas. That it is constantly being ripped apart and washed downstream goes without saying. ~Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
…writing was one way to let something of lasting value emerge
from the pains and fears of my little, quickly passing life.
Each time life required me to take a new step into unknown spiritual territory,
I felt a deep, inner urge to tell my story to others–
Perhaps as a need for companionship but maybe, too,
out of an awareness that my deepest vocation
is to be a witness to the glimpses of God I have been allowed to catch. ~Henri Nouwen
For too much of my life I have focused on the future, bypassing the present in my headlong rush to what lies ahead. There is always a goal to achieve, a conclusion becoming commencement of the next phase, a sunset turning right around in a few hours to become sunrise.
Yet the most precious times occur when the present is so overwhelming, so riveting, so tenderly full of life that I see a brief glimpse of God. I must grab hold with all my strength to try and secret it away and keep it forever. Of course the present still slips away from me, elusive and evasive, torn to bits by the unrelenting movement of time.
Even if I was able to take a photo to lock it to a page or screen, it is not enough. No matter how I choose to preserve the canvas of the present, it is passed, ebbing away never to return.
I must wonder at the present by focusing less on the foreshortening future.
So I write to harvest those times to make them last a little bit longer. Maybe not forever; they will inevitably be lost downstream into the ether of unread words.
Even if unread, I am learning that words, which had power in the Beginning to create life, bring tenderness and meaning back to my life. How blessed to live the gift twice: not just in the moment itself but in writing words that preserve and treasure it all up, if only for a moment before they fall, completed.
They sing their dearest songs — He, she, all of them — yea, Treble and tenor and bass, And one to play; With the candles mooning each face…. Ah, no; the years O! How the sick leaves reel down in throngs!
They clear the creeping moss — Elders and juniors — aye, Making the pathways neat And the garden gay; And they build a shady seat…. Ah, no; the years, the years; See, the white storm-birds wing across!
They are blithely breakfasting all — Men and maidens — yea, Under the summer tree, With a glimpse of the bay, While pet fowl come to the knee…. Ah, no; the years O! And the rotten rose is ript from the wall.
They change to a high new house, He, she, all of them — aye, Clocks and carpets and chairs On the lawn all day, And brightest things that are theirs…. Ah, no; the years, the years; Down their carved names the rain-drop ploughs. ~Thomas Hardy “During Wind and Rain”
A waning November moon reluctantly rose, dimming from the full globe of the night before. I drive a darkening country road, white lines sweeping past, aware of advancing frost in the evening haze, anxious to return home to familiar warmth and light.
Nearing a county road corner, slowing to a stop, I glanced aside where
a lonely rural cemetery sits expectant. Through open iron gates and tenebrous headstones, there in the middle path, incongruous,
car’s headlights beamed bright. I puzzled, thinking:
lovers or vandals would seek inky cover of night. Instead, these lights focused on one soul alone, kneeling graveside,
a hand resting heavily on a stone, head bowed in prayer. This stark moment of solitary sorrow,
a visible grieving of a heart illuminated by twin beams.
This benediction of mourning
as light pierced the blackness; gentle fingertips traced
the engraved letters of a beloved name. Feeling touched
as uneasy witness, I pull away to drive deeper into the night,
struggling to see despite
my eyes’ thickening mist.
~Emily Gibson – “Grief Illuminated”
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies,
those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
~ John Milton
Our farm looked like it had a remodel update this past week by the winds and rain, covering the yard with a yellow brown shag carpet of leaves thicker than ever I remember in our two 25 years here. This transformation is temporary until the leaves start to rot under the burden of endless days of wintry drizzle and freezing weather, but transcendent over plain green sod nevertheless.
I need to remind myself that only 8 months ago, none of these leaves even existed. They were mere potential in bud form, about to burst and grow in a silent awesome explosion of green and chlorophyll. After their brief tenure as shade and protection and fuel factory for their tree, last week they rained to the ground in torrents, letting go of the only security they had known.
Now they are compost, returning to the soil to feed the roots of the trees that gave them life to begin with.
If God makes the world, populates the world, infuses the world with every kind of ethical meaning, then the signature of God is the beauty of the world. Why even imagine a mystical experience when we’re born into one, submerged in one, day after day? ~Marilynne Robinson from Image Journal
drowning in a morass of tiny details,
trying to make sense
of the incomprehensible~
life sometimes spread so thin
it’s punched with gaping holes
filled only by God’s breath.
This is Him
staking His claim
by signing His name
on our hearts.
There is beauty in the world
from our insides out,
every hole of nothingness,
every connecting thread
every letter He has ever written
reminding us we are His.