Shed No Tear

butterflygarden2

1031drops7

Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”
~ Brian Jacques 

The end-of-summer farm is silently sobbing in its losses; tears of fall, from fog, mist and drizzle, cling to everything everywhere. I arrive back in the house from barn chores soaked through from walking through the weeping.  ‘Tis no shame to be drenched in such sorrow.

The memory of summer is pressed deep in our grieving, our wounds healed by Light that illumines our tears.

We are never left comfortless and weep in the knowing.

webs4

fog101944

Shed no tear! oh, shed no tear!
The flower will bloom another year.
Weep no more! oh, weep no more!
Young buds sleep in the root’s white core.
Dry your eyes! oh, dry your eyes!
For I was taught in Paradise
To ease my breast of melodies,–
Shed no tear.

Overhead! look overhead!
‘Mong the blossoms white and red–
Look up, look up! I flutter now
On this fresh pomegranate bough.
See me! ’tis this silvery bill
Ever cures the good man’s ill.
Shed no tear! oh, shed no tear!
The flower will bloom another year.
~John Keats from “Fairy Song”

fuschia2

fuschiafairies

Again and again we weep and know why.
It is not simply the sorrowful loss
of the perfection of spring giving way to the dying of the fall,
the last gasp coloring of leaves and skies.
It is the loss of innocence, of sense of reverence for life,
this blight man was born for,
this bleeding out perpetrated for no reason.
What must drive one man’s selfish rage, loneliness and despair to compel him to deprive innocent others of their blood and life?
What unexplained evil overtakes one heart that he seeks to stop the beating hearts of others?
When will there ever again be safe havens in society, if not within our schools, our churches, our medical facilities, our malls, then where?
This is a day for lament, for tears, and for prayers to God that we bleed out the sickness that is infecting us all.
fallleaf161

gladiolafair1

wwupinks9

Thank you to Male Ensemble Northwest for singing this song based on the Keats poem during their concert last night.

 

 

Crossing the Threshold

hayfield

earsgrass

John O’Donohue gave voice to the connection between beauty and those edges of life—
thresholds was the word he loved—
where the fullness of reality becomes more stark and more clear.

If you go back to the etymology of the word “threshold,” it comes from “threshing,” which is to separate the grain from the husk. So the threshold, in a way, is a place where you move into more critical and challenging and worthy fullness.

There are huge thresholds in every life.

You know that, for instance, if you are in the middle of your life in a busy evening, fifty things to do and you get a phone call that somebody you love is suddenly dying, it takes ten seconds to communicate that information.

But when you put the phone down, you are already standing in a different world. Suddenly everything that seems so important before is all gone and now you are thinking of this.

So the given world that we think is there and the solid ground we are on is so tentative.
And a threshold is a line which separates two territories of spirit, and very often how we cross is the key thing.

When we cross a new threshold worthily, what we do is we heal the patterns of repetition
that were in us that had us caught somewhere.

~John O’Donohue from an “On Being” interview with Krista Tippett on “Becoming Wise”

clouds7816

I emerge from the mind’s
cave into the worse darkness
outside, where things pass and
the Lord is in none of them.
I have heard the still, small voice
and it was that of the bacteria
demolishing my cosmos. I
have lingered too long on
this threshold, but where can I go?
To look back is to lose the soul
I was leading upwards towards
the light. To look forward? Ah,
what balance is needed at
the edges of such an abyss.
I am alone on the surface
of a turning planet. What
to do but, like Michelangelo’s
Adam, put my hand
out into unknown space,
hoping for the reciprocating touch?
~R.S. Thomas “Threshold”

fullmoon61916

 

These past few months of mass shootings, tragic deaths and never-ending conflict have forced us all to a threshold needing to be crossed. Yet we stand stubborn, immobilized, frozen and dying on the spot, peering out in fear but never peering inward for self-examination.

Instead of submitting to the crushing winnowing that must happen to blow away the chaff of our lives, to get down to the kernel of truth that sustains us, we cling to the old and familiar. It is we who have delivered ourselves a non-choice between two deeply flawed individuals for president. They represent what evils we tolerate as a people: celebrating entitlements, tolerating their legal, moral and financial shenanigans simply because they are rich and famous.

Unwilling to change attitude or perspective, reluctant to move forward into largely uncharted territory, mired in a tribalism only skin deep, we wonder why history repeats itself, why we are dying every day, by our own hand or by others’.

How to cross worthily? How to cross together, arm in arm, united in the need to move forward beyond this mess we have made for ourselves?

We need a good threshing, badly. We need to be worthy. We need to reach out our hands into the unknown that lies ahead, hoping and praying Someone is there to grab hold and lead us across to a better day.

 

thimbleweb

You Will Weep and Know Why

octcreep

madronashedding

wwubloom

sunrise102152

~to a young child~

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
~Gerard Manley Hopkins “Spring and Fall”
This morning we weep and know why.
It is not simply the sorrowful loss
of the perfection of spring and childhood
giving way to the dying of the fall,
the last gasp coloring of leaves and skies.
It is the loss of innocence, of sense of reverence for life,
this blight man was born for,
this bleeding out for no reason.
What must drive one man’s selfish rage, loneliness and despair to compel him to deprive innocent others of their blood and life?
What unexplained evil overtakes one heart that he seeks to stop the beating hearts of others before his own stops?
When will there ever be safe havens again in society, if not within our schools, our churches and our medical facilities, then where?
This is a day for lament, for tears, and for prayers to God that we cry out and bleed out the spiritual sickness that is infecting us all.
madronajoint
redcreeper
dandy91015

Bearing the Marks

wwucontrastcolor2

sunsetgrasses6

…Christ does not banish tragedy but carries it into the heart of God.
…in the forty days that followed (the resurrection), Christ was not magically made whole but bore the marks of his passion, and would not rest until we placed our hands—and our hearts—inside them.
~Gregory Wolfe from Seattle Pacific University’s Image Journal, from “The Tragic Sense of Life”

This week brought local news from Seattle Pacific University of yet another person with mental illness making a conscious choice to end his own life by random killing of others.  His personal and private pain becomes magnified exponentially through creating public pain and tragedy;  in this age of “selfies”, it is the ultimate in self-absorption to purposely erase innocent lives just so he will be remembered.

I often see broken people in my work — it is the nature of a primary care clinic.  The vast majority do not seek ways to break others; instead they seek the glue of compassion, a listening ear and sometimes medication that can be a balm of healing their wounds. A few harbor such anger and resentment that their anguish becomes such uncontrolled bleeding that society can only be a tourniquet to make it stop.

Christ showed the way to walk through such unimaginable pain and tragedy.   He carried his bleeding wounds, though his pulse was stilled, straight into the heart of God.   The marks he bore were from us, for us and about us, so we would always remember his sacrifice.

If we bleed, when we bleed … he returned to invite us to reach inside the wounds we inflicted and be forever healed.

rainydogwood

sunsetgrasses7

Advent Cries: Overcoming Fear

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

We forget that God is right there, waiting for us to turn to him, no matter how dire our situation.  We forget the reassuring words of his messengers: “Fear not.”
God always seeks to draw close to us — even in the depths of hell.

…it comes down to this: the only way to truly overcome our fear of death is to live life in such a way that its meaning cannot be taken away by death.  It means fighting the impulse to live for ourselves, instead of for others.  It means choosing generosity over greed.  It also means living humbly, rather than seeking influence and power.  Finally, it means being ready to die again and again — to ourselves, and to every self-serving opinion or agenda.
~Johann Christoph Arnold

There is a cacophony of debates about where to place the blame for the current epidemic of senseless mass shootings of innocent people; these arguments are flying around kitchen tables, in barber shops, through countless comments on online blogs and news reports.  We want to place the blame somewhere: the easy access to the weapons used, the lack of access to mental illness treatment, the overparenting, the lack of parenting, the violence of video games and movies, the lack of foundational spiritual faith, the overabundance of fundamentalist spiritual faith.

None of it meets the real problem head on:  evil exists no matter what the weapon used or the mental illness left untreated.   As we learned after the airplanes-as-weapons tragedies of 911, massive expense and legislation barely keeps evil at bay, simply moving its practitioners on to some other means.   No place on this earthly soil is truly secure and no amount of money nor new laws will create that place, as hard as we might want to believe that can happen.

So we must fall back on what we were told long ago: fear not.
Do not be overwhelmed with evil but overcome evil with good.  We have seen it yet again in the case of the heroes in this most recent tragedy: teachers and staff who made themselves the targets, placing themselves in front of those children who depended on them.

The goal of this life is to live for others, to be ready to die, living in a way such that death cannot erase the meaning and significance of a life.
Give up our selfish agendas in order to consider the needs of the greater good.
Cherish life, all lives,  especially those of our precious children — including the unborn — the unwanted, inconvenient, wrong-gendered or genetically impaired.
And we must cherish,  rather than intentionally hastening,  the final months, weeks, days and hours of our completely dependent and disabled terminally ill and elderly.  If we do not protect the lives of the weakest among us, we are turning them over (and we will soon follow) to the darkness.

Our only defense against evil is God’s offense; only He will lead us to the light where everything sad will come untrue.
Only then will there be no more fear — not ever — ever again.