Winter’s Light

Crisp winter light
casts pen and ink shadow
drawings on every surface;
black iron fences sparkle
with metallic gleam; bejeweled
glass glistens; tree trunks
take on a polished look;
rose streaked sun rise,
burning sunsets mark
our wintering days.

Winter’s sunlight gives clarity.
a distant horizon seems closer,
tasks at hand seem less demanding
as the sun’s warmth suffuses
our wants and waiting, for this is
a hunkering down time.

I am drawn to the sun, fascinated by the slight changes in patterns it produces day to day. From the southwest exposure of my deck, I keep track of subtle differences; tracing the curvature of the rising, shadow making, setting sun. Every day I look forward to an afternoon tea and biscuit break, allowing the sun to reset my disposition. My tea time alters as the earth’s relationship to the sun shifts.

In this winter light as the sun warms my bones. I begin to feel the nudges of aging. The patterns of my life are changing. As I embrace my role as a contemplative elder, I recognize the new turns my life is taking, the new limits, a slower step, a quieter response to life. When people ask about retirement – and that question always comes with assumptions and expectations of a kind of wanderlust of leisure – I more readily tell them what I am “doing”, rather than acknowledge my preferred way of being – sitting in silence observing the natural world, returning thanks for creation, reading and reflecting on the Divine’s unending pathways for revelation. Too much value seems inevitably tied to the external life, what I am doing? The sun conspires with my desire to sit and absorb the goodness of creation.

Ronald Rolheiser in Sacred Fire  notes shedding is a necessary step in this journey, that biology conspires in old age to help mellow our souls; that signs of aging are an initiation into another way of life; that physical diminishment matures the soul; that by design this stage is more about reflection than productivity. I am very aware that inevitably these “actions” of “being” generate goodness. In silence I find myself prompted to give from the gratitude and love I experience.

I feel I am a privileged part of an awesome universe. I too want to live as an illuminating spark – now and in eternity.

“What has come into being in Him is Life, and Life is the Light of the World.” John 5:3-5.

May you too find warmth and discover good news of great joy in this wintering season.

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Gift of One

The energy of one
brown oak leaf gliding
past the window pulls my
attention away from random
thoughts colliding within.

Sun’s sudden appearance
after a long grace-full rain,
a momentary, subtle shift
from gray to golden,
awakens a desire
to share good news.

One Seed,
One Flame,
One Word,
One Laugh,
One Chime,
One Breath,
One Hand,
One Gift
Is enough
To change
One’s Life.

oak-leaf

Song of the Evergreen

Fall has changed my landscape, taking my breath away. My words seem to disappear. I have been looking at the world through the end of a kaleidoscope, every slight turn, every new angle, producing a new vision. The trees, stripped bare, open my horizon. I stay inside on the days the thick veils of smoke from burning forest fill the air. Nature prophetically parallels the changing landscape taking place in society. In silence I let go of the chaos of thought, creating space for a new configuration.

As a child I was churched in liturgical seasons which I experience as divine revelation made visible in nature’s signs and symbols. This unfolding begins with advent, waiting for what is to come. Light diminishes, darkness moves in, but we wait with expectant hope for Love.

I was running late for church the first Sunday of Advent and reached the door just as the chanting began. “Wait for the Lord; be strong; take heart.” I was transfixed by this familiar and reassuring refrain. A large green wreathe stood in the center of the sanctuary; evergreen, the symbol of hope. Four candles, one light for each week of waiting. As a new flame is added, hope burns brighter.

On a Sunday afternoon hike  I found myself walking to the rhythm of that mantra. Be strong. Take heart. Hiking is a truly Zen experience for me. I can let go of every thought and awareness, moving forward one step at a time. When I pause to catch my breath, I look around me, reading the signs of nature, discovering its messages. More than once I have had the feeling of standing of holy ground, stepping into the universe’s cathedral. On this particular walk, I right away saw the thick trunks of trees wrapped in braided vines, tall hardwoods, pillars creating a firm foundation. Ferns spread on the ground like green altar cloths. The evergreens stood out, a new stand of pines relishing in the possibility that through the winter, the light would make its way into the usually dark forest and they would grow!

Each of us has our own way of making sense, finding meaning, expressing understanding. The signs and symbols speak to me; from the sights, sounds, and touch I draw courage, not a lasting supply, but enough to get me from one week to the next. I am going to envelope myself with this season, using the time to reflect on past, present, and future. I know a seed is being nourished in the darkness and trust that in time I will emerge with the light, finding new answers to old questions. What does Love compel me to do?

song-of-the-evergreen