Tree Secrets

cloudy2818

 

sunset1131811

 

snowglow4

 

Of winter’s lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer’s secret
Deep down within its heart.
~ Charles G. Stater

 

parrotiabud1

 

febapplebud

 

janbuds

 

parrotiabud2

 

Enduring the dark and quiet winter months, the trees appear to doze deep while standing stark naked against the sky, roused only by the whipping of the winds and when breaking under a heavy coat of ice.

It is uneasy sleep.

When I look close now, I can tell:
they conceal summer secrets under their skin, the sap flows thick and sluggish, there is a barely palpable pulse in those branches.

A heart pumps within, readying.

 

birchpeel

 

poplar2818

 

poplarfire

 

morning2916

In the Dark, Reconciled

sunset121173

 

I am the rest between two notes,
which are somehow always in discord
because Death’s note wants to climb over—
but in the dark interval, reconciled,
they stay there trembling.
And the song goes on, beautiful.
~Rainer Maria Rilke from “My Life is Not This Steeply Sloping Hour”

 

north12518

 

sunset125182

 

On Sunday evenings I often feel I’m the spot in the middle between discordant notes. There is on one side of me the pressure of catch-up from what was left undone through a too-brief weekend and on the other side is the anticipated demand of the coming week. As I prepare to sleep at the end of a Sabbath day, I feel uneasily in dead center, immobilized by the unknown ahead and the known behind.

This moment of rest in the present, between the trembling past and uncertain future, is my moment of reconciliation: my Sabbath extended.

This evening, I will allow myself a steeply sloping hour of silence and reflection before I surge ahead into the week, knowing that on my journey I’ll inevitably hit wrong notes, yet beautiful nevertheless.

Even the least harmonious notes resolve within the next chord. I will move from the rest of my Sabbath back into the rhythm of my life.

Trembling, still trembling, always trembling at what is to come.

 

419661_3133313644072_422257452_n
photo by Josh Scholten

 

392613_3049721161175_1428161787_n
photo by Lea Gibson

 

 

 

 

A Blanket of Peace and Forgetting

sunrise97143

 

sunrise97147

 

Well I know now the feel of dirt under the nails,
I know now the rhythm of furrowed ground under foot,
I have learned the sounds to listen for in the dusk,
the dawning and the noon.

I have held cornfields in the palm of my hand,
I have let the swaying wheat and rye run through my fingers,
I have learned when to be glad for sunlight and for sudden
thaw and for rain.

I know now what weariness is when the mind stops
and night is a dark blanket of peace and forgetting
and the morning breaks to the same ritual and the same
demands and the silence.
~Jane Clement from No One Can Stem the Tide

 

sunrise9714

 

sunrise971411

 

sunrise97141

 

I did not sleep last night — my mind would not stop, my blankets twisted in turmoil, my muscles too tight.  The worries of the day needed serious wrestling in the dark rather than settling forgotten under my pillow.

Yet morning dawns anew and I’m comforted by the rhythm of hours starting fresh.

Today I’ll get my hands dirty digging a hole deep enough to hold the worries, and tomorrow forget where exactly I buried them.

 

sunrise971410

 

sunrise97148

 

 

Support for the Barnstorming Blog

Your financial support keeps this blog a daily offering and ad-free. A one-time contribution helps greatly.

$10.00

Another Day’s Chalking

sunset121173

“Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day’s chalking.”
~Frederich Buechner

sunset121177

sunset121171

sunset121179

And tomorrow
move forward
to leave a mark on a new day
after night’s erasing rest.

No matter what took place the day before,
no matter the misgivings,
no matter what should have been left unsaid,
no matter how hard the heart,
there is another day to make it right.

Forgiveness finds a foothold in the dark,
when eyelids close,
thoughts quietly open,
voices hush in prayers
of praise, petition and gratitude.

And so now
sleep on it
knowing his grace
abounds in blameless dreams.

Morning will come
awash in new light,
another chance
freely given.

sunset121175

sunrise12217

 

A Time to Sleep

octoberwalnut

fallleaf161

barewalnut

windfalls2

Season of ripening fruit and seeds, depart;
There is no harvest ripening in the heart.

Bring the frost that strikes the dahlias down
In one cruel night. The blackened buds, the brown
And wilted heads, the crippled stems, we crave –
All beauty withered, crumbling to the grave.
Wind, strip off the leaves, and harden, ground,
Till in your frozen crust no break is found.

Then only, when man’s inner world is one
With barren earth and branches bared to bone,
Then only can the heart begin to know
The seeds of hope asleep beneath the snow;
Then only can the chastened spirit tap
The hidden faith still pulsing in the sap.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

octoberyard4

leafcarpet

Our farm has been changing dramatically over the past several weeks, each day moving a little closer to the reality of winter around the corner. Most of the fruit which is not residing in our freezer has fallen from the trees, and the walnut husks are hanging lonesome and bulbous as a windstorm pulled many leaves to the ground creating a multi-colored carpet everywhere I walk.
Readying for winter’s sleep is quite a glamorous affair for some trees on our farm–they are clothed in rich crimson and gold like the most alluring and ostentatious negligee. However the majority of tree leaves turn drab yellow or brown, as if donning a practical flannel nightgown or an oversized t-shirt without any pretense of grandeur. Even our Haflinger horses laze about, comfortable in their soft winter woolie coats and feathered slippers, happy with their gift of hay. I’m understand their contentment as I prefer fluffy flannel myself.This has not been a leisurely autumn for me, instead full of turbulence and fretfulness, too much work to do in too few hours,  rushing full force toward the hoped-for calm and quiet of winter. Like so many others, I’m ill at ease with this transition, as unready as a small child who resists the approach of bedtime, even when exhausted to the point of meltdown. It takes someone to quietly sit down with me to read a good bedtime story and to sing a soft hymn of lullaby. I keep leaping up, eyes propped open, pushing on, aware there are still too many “miles to go before I sleep”.

The time to sleep will come, sooner than I think. Just as a storm brings the leaves to the ground, so shall I be laid to rest, to be restored when the time is right.

Maybe I should think about wearing that bright red nightie.
octobermaple
maplegold3
octoberyard

morning101516

Let Your Heart Go Forth

sunset102215

sunset81115

westsky

sunset8101516

The season of sunset as it draws a veil over the day,
befits that repose of the soul
when earthborn cares yield to the joys of heavenly communion.
The glory of the setting sun excites our wonder,
and the solemnity of approaching night awakens our awe.
If the business of this day will permit it, it will be well, dear reader,
if you can spare an hour to walk in the field at eventide,
but if not,
the Lord is in the town too,
and will meet with you in your chamber or in the crowded street.
Let your heart go forth to meet Him.

~Charles Spurgeon from his Morning and Evening Devotionals

 

Many of the young adults I see in my practice struggle to sleep at night. Their minds are racing, they can’t stop worrying, their bodies are tight with tension.
Their hope is I might prescribe a pill since they’ve tried marijuana and several shots of vodka, and that isn’t helping.

I would like to prescribe an hour with God at sunset but that is not permissible at a public institution.

Instead, I’m allowed to speak of emotional support animals, or yoga, or an evening stroll, or “meditation” or even a labyrinth walk, but never letting one’s heart go forth to meet God.

Spurgeon, out of his own anxiety and depression, knows the healing of a walk with God at sunset.
It is throwing the cares of the heart out to Him and knowing He will catch and hold them tight.

octobermoon

sunset910152

sunset810158

sunset811153

The Fall of the Leaf

wwuleavesshelter
 octleaves10155
morningleaf
Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the heart feels a languid grief
         Laid on it for a covering,
         And how sleep seems a goodly thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels like a dried sheaf
         Bound up at length for harvesting,
         And how death seems a comely thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?
~Dante Gabriel Rossetti from “Autumn Song”
Now with darkness draping our morning commute
and darkness enveloping our return home,
we too are like the settling of the falling leaves:
our hearts of grief in the letting go,
our souls bound up dried for harvest.
We sing out loud,
in colors that glow in the dark,
while autumn moves us closer to our sleep.
blueberryleaf3
morningleaf2
blueberryleaf12