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.
The hen flings a single pebble aside
with her yellow, reptilian foot.
Never in eternity the same sound–
a small stone falling on a red leaf.
The juncture of twig and branch,
scarred with lichen, is a gate
we might enter, singing.
The mouse pulls batting
from a hundred-year-old quilt.
She chewed a hole in a blue star
to get it, and now she thrives…
Now is her time to thrive.
Things: simply lasting, then
failing to last: water, a blue heron’s
eye, and the light passing
between them: into light all things
must fall, glad at last to have fallen.
~Jane Kenyon “Things”
Things we think will last won’t.
As transient as a storm-birthed rainbow,
Light passes between things and us,
illuminating a pathway
to something far more lasting.
So we follow, falling, always falling,
failing ourselves to last
until lifted up into the light
Gladly we reflect the Light
Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’:
aim at Earth and you will get neither.
~ C.S. Lewis from The Joyful Christian
The night sky was still dim and pale.
There, peeping among the cloud wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains,
Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while.
The beauty of it smote his heart,
as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him.
For like a shaft, clear and cold,
the thought pierced him that in the end
the Shadow was only a small and passing thing:
there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
~J.R.R. Tolikien, The Return of the King
We long for a heaven that feels so elusive;
we who are so weary
and with so much need
seek out Light so seemingly
beyond our reach.
Yet by reaching beyond the here and now
we find heaven descended to us
in His incarnate earthliness.
No shadow cast in this worldly darkness,
and no iron nails
can quell the beauty
of His everlasting brilliance.
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.
Here is the fringey edge where elements meet and realms mingle, where time and eternity spatter each other with foam.
~Annie Dillard from Holy the Firm
Heaven and earth are only three feet apart,
but in the thin places that distance is even smaller.
A thin place is where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted
and one is able to receive a glimpse of the glory of God.
An April evening of swirling drama in the sunset clouds~
just enough illumination
to witness the fringe of heaven just beyond.
April is like the raggedy, wandering gypsy lad of the fairy tale.
When he moves, streaks of gold show beneath his torn garments
and you suspect that this elfin creature is actually a prince in disguise.
April is just that.
There are raggedy, cold days, dark black ones,
but all through the month for a second, for an hour, or for three days at a stretch you glimpse pure gold.
The weeks pass and the rags slip away, a shred at a time.
Toward the end of the month his royal highness stands before you.
~Jean Hersey from The Shape of a Year
I avoid mirrors now as I age, knowing I’m clothed in rags, thinning here, thickening there, sagging and stretching, wrinkled and patched up.
Still, if I look closely past the rags and sags, I see the same eyes as my nine year old self peering back at me.
The lightness of youth and freshness may be disguised, but it is still there.
Every once in awhile, I glimpse pure gypsy gold.
There is a fragrance in the air,
a certain passage of a song,
an old photograph falling out from the pages of a book,
the sound of somebody’s voice in the hall
that makes your heart leap and fills your eyes with tears.
Who can say when or how it will be
that something easters up out of the dimness
to remind us of a time before we were born and after we will die?
God himself does not give answers. He gives himself.
~Frederick Buechner from Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale
“Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.”
― Gerard Manley Hopkins
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
~William Butler Yeats from “Easter, 1916”
It has been a slow coming of spring this year, seeming in no hurry whatsoever. Snow remains in the foothills and the greening of the fields has only begun. The flowering plum and cherry trees finally have burst into bloom despite a continued chill. It feels like winter at night yet the perfumed air of spring now permeates the day. Such extreme variability is disorienting, much like standing blinded in a spotlight in a darkened room.
Yet this is exactly what eastering is like. It is awakening out of a restless sleep, opening a door to let in fresh air, and the stone that locked us in the dark rolled back.
Overnight all changed, changed utterly.
He is not only risen. He is given indeed.