This has been a wild weather month on the outside:
heavy winds at times, damaging hale storms, snowfall covering the foothills, sweaty sunny middays, torrential unpredictable showers, ankle-deep mud.
And inside my cranium:
words that flew out too quickly, anxiety mixed with a hint of anger, too easy tears, searing frustration, feeling immobilized by the daily muck and mire.
The unpredictable month of May needs no explanation for acting like October, December and August within a span of a few hours. I am not so easily forgiven or unburdened. I end up lying awake at night with regrets, composing apologies, and wanting to hide under a rock until the storm blows over.
But in the midst of all the extremes, while the storm is raging, a miracle takes place:
it can only happen when brilliant light exposes weeping from heavy laid clouds, like the rainbow that dropped from heaven last week to touch the earth right in our backyard, only a few feet from our barn.
God cries too. His wept tears have lit up the sky in a promise of forgiveness.
He assures us: this storm too will pass.
He assures us because He knows we need it.
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.
I know from experience that when I allow busy little doings to fill the precious time of early morning, when contemplation might flourish, I open the doors to the demon of acedia. Noon becomes a blur – no time, no time – the wolfing down of a sandwich as I listen to the morning’s phone messages and plan the afternoon’s errands.
When evening comes, I am so exhausted that vespers has become impossible. It is as if I have taken the world’s weight on my shoulders and am too greedy, and too foolish, to surrender it to God.
~Kathleen Norris from The Quotidian Mysteries
These are days with no breathing room,
no time to stop and appreciate each moment
as a bud about to burst into bloom.
And it is my fault
that I’m not breathing deeply enough~
simply skimming the surface
in my race to the end of the day
as time’s petals, so open, so brilliant, so eternal
close up unseen and unknown.
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.
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.
…who still has a controlled sense of wonder before the universal mystery,
whether it hides in a snail’s eye
or within the light that impinges on that delicate organ.
“James gave the huffle of a snail in danger. And nobody heard him at all.”
~A.A.Milne “When We Were Very Young”
A gastropod brave enough
to cross a busy sidewalk
appears in no particular rush~
no hurry toward the grassy expanse
on the other side.
The lawn will still be there
whether an hour from now
Its waving little snail eyes
see and smell the future.
To assure it would not be crushed underfoot
I decide to intervene in history
and give it a lift
as Someone did for me
when I felt irrevocably broken.
So today I came,
I saw a snail in danger
and barely heard its huffle.
I didn’t need to hear it cry
to do the right thing.