Another Day’s Chalking

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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.
~Frederick Buechner

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Today
is the tomorrow
hoped for last night,
a clean slate on which 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 and leak,
thoughts quietly crack 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.

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Just Too Much on a June Morning

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Every spring
I hear the thrush singing
in the glowing woods
he is only passing through.
His voice is deep,
then he lifts it until it seems
to fall from the sky.
I am thrilled.
I am grateful.
Then, by the end of morning,
he’s gone, nothing but silence
out of the tree
where he rested for a night.
And this I find acceptable.
Not enough is a poor life.
But too much is, well, too much.
Imagine Verdi or Mahler
every day, all day.
It would exhaust anyone.
~Mary Oliver from “A Thousand Mornings”

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photo by Harry Rodenberger

 

What does it say about me that in the darkness of December mornings, I yearn for the early sunrises of June but once I’m firmly into the June calendar, it no longer is so compelling?  It confirms my suspicion that I’m incapable of reveling in the moment at hand, something that would likely take years of therapy to undo.  I’m sure there is some deep seated issue here, but I’m too sleep deprived to pursue it.

My eyes popped open this morning at 4:17 AM, spurred by vigorous birdsong in the trees surrounding our farm house.  There was daylight sneaking through the venetian blinds at that unseemly hour as well.  Once the bird chorus starts, with one lone chirpy voice in the apple tree by our bedroom window, it rapidly becomes a full frontal onslaught symphony orchestra from the plum, cherry, poplar, walnut, fir and chestnut.   Sleep is irretrievable.

I remember wishing for early morning birdsong last December when it seemed the sun would never rise and the oppressive silence would never lift.  I had conveniently forgotten those mornings a few years ago when we had a flock of over a dozen young roosters who magically found their crows very early in the morning a mere 10 weeks after hatching.  Nothing before or since could match their alarm clock expertise after 4 AM.  No barbecue before or since has tasted as sweet.

So I remind myself how bad it can really be and backyard birdsong is a veritable symphony in comparison.

Even so, I already need a nap.

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Breathless

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All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.
~Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

 

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Every time I open my eyes to a new day, I need to be reminded how precious is each moment, how wondrous each breath and each heartbeat.

We are created for this — to not forget.

To never forget.

 

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Between Midnight and Dawn: Awaking

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For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11

I Woke: —
Night, lingering, poured upon the world
Of drowsy hill and wood and lake
Her moon-song,
And the breeze accompanied with hushed fingers
On the birches.

Gently the dawn held out to me
A golden handful of bird’s-notes.
~Lenora Speyer “The Gift”

 

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1. Whence is the goodly fragrance flowing,
Stealing our senses all away,
never the like did come a-blowing,
Shepherds, in flow’ry fields of May,
Whence is that goodly fragrance flowing,
Stealing our senses all away.

2. What is that light so brilliant,
breaking Here in the night across our eyes.
Never so bright, the day-star waking,
Started to climb the morning skies!
What is that light so brilliant, breaking,
Here in the night across our eyes.
~Traditional French Carol

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
~Be Thou My Vision, first stanza

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Stealing our senses all away.
Overwhelmed by the golden notes of songs, even if uttered only by birds.
A brightest light breaks apart the darkest night.
The brilliance climbing the morning skies.

This is what it is like for us:  our best thought.
Our Day-Star, Lord of our hearts,
awakens from the deepest of sleeps
and we, our senses stolen by glory,  are overjoyed.

 

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During this Lenten season, I will be drawing inspiration from the new devotional collection edited by Sarah Arthur —Between Midnight and Dawn

Between Midnight and Dawn: Not Ready at All

photo by Joel DeWaard

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
~Isaiah 9:2

**********************

In the dark I rest,
unready for the light which dawns
day after day,
eager to be shared.
Black silk, shelter me.
I need
more of the night before I open
eyes and heart
to illumination. I must still
grow in the dark like a root
not ready, not ready at all.
~Denise Levertov

**********************

Take heart…
There is a power here in the bowels of the earth,
a “deeper magic,” as C.S. Lewis called it. 
Death is not given the final word.
Christ doesn’t need to turn east to greet the sunrise:
he is himself the Dawn by whose light we see light (Psalm 36:9). 
The sun will not set again. 
That was our last night.
Ever.
~Sarah Arthur from Introduction to Between Midnight and Dawn

 

When we go through a string of February gray rainy days that begin and end in an all-encompassing and, in some ways, comforting darkness, I often feel “hunkered down.”  I’m seeking shelter right now, surrounded like a root yet to sprout, needing time to ready myself for the power of the Light soon to come.

 

During this Lenten season, I will be drawing inspiration from the new devotional collection edited by Sarah Arthur —Between Midnight and Dawn

photo by Joel DeWaard

In a Dark Place

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Sometimes when you’re in a dark place
you think you’ve been buried,
but actually you’ve been planted.
~Christine Caine

_______________

We don’t understand
while buried in the dark,
that we rest planted in holy ground,
waiting for the wakening
that calls us forth to bloom and fruit.

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January Partly Cloudy

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Today is one of those excellent January partly cloudies
in which light chooses an unexpected part of the landscape to trick out in gilt,
and then the shadow sweeps it away.
You know you’re alive.
You take huge steps,
trying to feel the planet’s roundness arc between your feet.

~Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

_________________

After years of rarely paying attention,
too busy with whatever household or barnyard task needed doing,
I realized there are only a finite number of sunrises and sunsets left to me
and I don’t want to miss them, so now I stop, take a deep breath
and feel lucky to be alive, a witness to that moment.

Sometimes they are plain and gray
just as I am,
but there are days that are lit from above and beneath
with a fire that ignites across the sky.
I too am engulfed for a moment or two,
until sun or shadow sweeps me away,
transfixed and transformed, forever grateful for the light.

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