Turn Aside and Look: Eastering Up

sunsetsky41217

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

sunrise44172

“Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.”
― Gerard Manley Hopkins

bakerinhiding

All changed, changed utterly:   
A terrible beauty is born.
~William Butler Yeats from “Easter, 1916”
evening415172

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.

evening415171

sunsetgeese

 

 

Between Midnight and Dawn: Blowing Open My Heart

12705707_996395780396273_5979889564324902788_n
photo by Gilbert Lennox, Ireland

 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence:  If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
1 John 3: 18-20

 

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park and capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.
~Seamus Heaney “Postscript” from The Spirit Level

 

…they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.

Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.
~James Wright from “The Blessing”

 

‘Tis strange that death
should sing.
I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,
Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death,
And from the organ-pipe of frailty sings
His soul and body to their lasting rest.
~William Shakespeare from “King John”

 

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,   
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,   
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,   
Trod with a lighter tread.
~William Butler Yeats from “The Wild Swans at Coole”
**********************************

Working outside before the sun was up on a recent rainy morning,  I heard overhead the swishing hush of wings in flight and the trumpeter swan doleful hymn called out as dozens passed above me in a long meandering line against the early dawn grayness.

The swan flocks predictably arrive here in late autumn to eat their fill, feasting in the harvested cornfields surrounding our farm, their bright white plumage a stark contrast to the dulling muddy soil.  In mild winters, they tend to stick around awhile, but soon they will lift their long graceful necks and fan out their wings to be picked up the wind, leaving us behind and beneath, moving on to their next feeding and breeding grounds.

These incredible creatures bring such joy with their annual arrival and brief stay, their leave-taking a metaphor for this dying time of year, reminding me once again nothing on earth can last, that God is greater than our earthly hearts.

“‘Tis strange that death should sing…” but in fact,  ’tis strange that death should fly in and out on silken wings.

I give myself over to their beauty, and walk with lighter tread, singing a new song:
I am grateful my sore heart still soars beyond this soil.

morningswans

20131230-080912

 

swantokyo1

 

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

 

All’s Changed

20131230-080912.jpg
morningswans2
baker1013151
The trees are in their autumn beauty,   
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water   
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones   
Are nine-and-fifty swans.
The nineteenth autumn has come upon me   
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings   
Upon their clamorous wings.
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,   
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,   
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,   
Trod with a lighter tread.
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;   
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,   
Attend upon them still.
But now they drift on the still water,   
Mysterious, beautiful;   
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day   
To find they have flown away?
~William Butler Yeats “The Wild Swans at Coole”
All’s changed
yet even though
my pace has slowed
from younger days,
my heart still sings
of such mysterious beauty
beheld
when I no longer
need to hurry.
swantokyo4
swantokyo1
swantokyo2
morningswans

Like the Direction of Sunbeams

beeswarm5148

A swarm of honey bees appeared, suddenly and without fanfare, on our old black walnut tree with the tree house. After dusk, a local bee keeper came to brush the majority of them into a cardboard box to take home to a new hive.

A bee swarm is an amazing single-minded organism of thousands of individuals intent on one purpose: survival of the queen to establish a new home for her safety and security, thus ensuring survival for all.  I am grateful they stopped off here at this farm for a bit of a respite, and wish them well under the nurture of a gentle apiarist who, for forty years, has loved, respected and honored bees by working for their well-being.

The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.
~Henry David Thoreau

beeswarm51410

One can no more approach people without love than one can approach bees without care. Such is the quality of bees…
~Leo Tolstoy

beeswarm2A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July
Is not worth a fly
.
-An Old English Ditty

beeswarm5143

When the air is wine and the wind is free
and the morning sits on the lovely lea
and sunlight ripples on every tree
Then love-in-air is the thing for me

I’m a bee,
I’m a ravishing, rollicking, young queen bee,
That’s me.

I wish to state that I think it’s great,
Oh, it’s simply rare in the upper air,

It’s the place to pair
With a bee.

If any old farmer can keep and hive me,
Then any old drone may catch and wife me;
I’m sorry for creatures who cannot pair
On a gorgeous day in the upper air,
I’m sorry for cows that have to boast
Of affairs they’ve had by parcel post,
I’m sorry for a man with his plots and guile,
His test-tube manner, his test-tube smile;
I’ll multiply and I’ll increase
As I always have–by mere caprice;
For I am a queen and I am a bee,
I’m devil-may-care and I’m fancy free,
Love-in-air is the thing for me,

Oh, it’s simply rare
In the beautiful air,
And I wish to state
That I’ll always mate

With whatever drone I encounter,
All hail the queen!

~E.B. White from “Song of the Queen Bee” published in the New Yorker 1945

beeswarm5147

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
~William Butler Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innisfree

beeswarm51411

Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.
~Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

 

beeswarm5141

…The world was really one bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places.
Don’t be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you.
Still, don’t be an idiot; wear long sleeves and pants.
Don’t swat. Don’t even think about swatting.
If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates while whistling melts a bee’s temper.
Act like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.
Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved.

~Sue Monk Kidd from The Secret Life of Bees

beeswarm5142

Such bees! Bilbo had never seen anything like them.
“If one were to sting me,” He thought “I should swell up as big as I am!
~J.R.R. Tolkien from The Hobbit

what's left behind this morning, waiting for the beekeeper's return
what’s left behind the following morning, waiting for the beekeeper’s return

whatsleft2

When the bee comes to your house, let her have beer; you may want to visit the bee’s house some day.
    -Congo Proverb

from May 2014 (reblog)

Bee Swarm at BriarCroft

beeswarm5148A swarm of honey bees appeared yesterday on our old walnut tree (the front yard tree house tree) and by dusk, a local bee keeper I had called came to box up the majority of them to take home to a new hive.  There are still a few left this morning (see below) which she plans to return to fetch this morning.

A bee swarm becomes an amazing single-minded organism of thousands of individuals intent on one purpose: survival of the queen to establish a new home for her safety and security, thus ensuring survival for all.  I am grateful they stopped off here at this farm for a bit of a respite, and wish them well under the nurture of a gentle apiarist who, for forty years, has loved, respected and honored bees by working for their well-being.

 

 

A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July
Is not worth a fly
.
-An Old English Ditty

beeswarm51410

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

~William Butler Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innisfree

beeswarm2

Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.
~Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

beeswarm5143

When the air is wine and the wind is free
and the morning sits on the lovely lea
and sunlight ripples on every tree
Then love-in-air is the thing for me

I’m a bee,
I’m a ravishing, rollicking, young queen bee,
That’s me.

I wish to state that I think it’s great,
Oh, it’s simply rare in the upper air,

It’s the place to pair
With a bee.

If any old farmer can keep and hive me,
Then any old drone may catch and wife me;
I’m sorry for creatures who cannot pair
On a gorgeous day in the upper air,
I’m sorry for cows that have to boast
Of affairs they’ve had by parcel post,
I’m sorry for a man with his plots and guile,
His test-tube manner, his test-tube smile;
I’ll multiply and I’ll increase
As I always have–by mere caprice;
For I am a queen and I am a bee,
I’m devil-may-care and I’m fancy free,
Love-in-air is the thing for me,

Oh, it’s simply rare
In the beautiful air,
And I wish to state
That I’ll always mate

With whatever drone I encounter,
All hail the queen!

~E.B. White from “Song of the Queen Bee” published in the New Yorker 1945

beeswarm5147

One can no more approach people without love than one can approach bees without care. Such is the quality of bees…
~Leo Tolstoy

beeswarm51411

The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.
~Henry David Thoreau

beeswarm5141

…The world was really one bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places.
Don’t be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you.
Still, don’t be an idiot; wear long sleeves and pants.
Don’t swat. Don’t even think about swatting.
If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates while whistling melts a bee’s temper.
Act like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.
Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved.

~Sue Monk Kidd

beeswarm5142

Such bees! Bilbo had never seen anything like them.
“If one were to sting me,” He thought “I should swell up as big as I am!
~J.R.R. Tolkien from The Hobbit

what's left behind this morning, waiting for the beekeeper's return
what’s left behind this morning, waiting for the beekeeper’s return

whatsleft2When the bee comes to your house, let her have beer; you may want to visit the bee’s house some day.
    -Congo Proverb

Twilight Mirrors

swantokyo4Swan photos taken in late afternoon light in a moat in downtown Tokyo, Japan, with reflection of the surrounding highrise buildings coloring the water

swantokyo5

Oh cracked and twilight mirrors ever to catch
One color, one glinting flash, of the splendor of things…
At least
Love your eyes that can see, your mind that can
Hear the music, the thunder of the wings. Love the wild swan.
~Robinson Jeffers from “Love the Wild Swan”
swantokyo1
swantokyo2
But now they drift on the still water,   
Mysterious, beautiful;   
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day   
To find they have flown away?
~William Butler Years from “The Wild Swans at Coole”
swantokyo6

A Doleful Hymn

Photo taken today across the road from our farm- feeding swans amid the cornfield stubble
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,   
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,   
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,   
Trod with a lighter tread.
~William Butler Yeats from “The Wild Swans at Coole”

I was working outside before the sun was up this rainy morning, preparing the horse barn for our vet arriving to perform an on-the-farm surgery on one of our Haflinger horses.  As I prepared the shavings bedding, feeling anxious about the procedure to take place, I heard sounds overhead that come only a few days a year: the swishing hush of wings in flight and the trumpeter swan “doleful hymn” called out as dozens passed above me in a long meandering line against the early dawn greyness.

The swan flocks predictably arrive in early November to eat their fill, feasting in the harvested cornfields surrounding our farm, their bright white plumage a stark contrast to the dulling muddy soil.  And too soon they lift their long graceful necks and fan out their wings to be picked up the wind, leaving us behind and beneath, moving south, heading year after year for their wintering home.

These incredible creatures bring such joy with their annual arrival and brief stay, their leave-taking  a harbinger for this dying time of year, reminding me once again nothing on earth can last.

“‘Tis strange that death should sing…” but in fact,  ’tis strange that death should fly in and out on silken wings.

I give myself over to their beauty, and walk with lighter tread, singing a new song.

I am grateful my sore heart still soars.

‘Tis strange that death
should sing.
I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,
Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death,
And from the organ-pipe of frailty sings
His soul and body to their lasting rest.
~William Shakespeare from The Life and Death of King John

The swan, like the soul of the poet,
By the dull world is ill understood.
~Heinrich Heine