Summer Muddle

Days I arise when a night nymph or
disturbing dream muddies the rivers
of waking consciousness. My words become
woven into tangled taunts like green vines
silently spreading on my walking path;
a wet woolen heaviness keeps my spirit
from soaring. Only the dragonfly seems
unfettered by bold rays of the mid-August sun.

Summer knows about muddling moods;
the cicadas insistent wing flicks seem
to slow into a lulling rhythm; only leaves
hanging out on a limb shiver with delight
when an unseen giant releases a single
puff of satisfaction – or frustration.
I’ve learned a lot about silence and
patience in times of oppressive heat.

Rocking and remembering my childhood,
we knew no other kind of summer day.
A short drive from home to the beach
in Aunt Francis’ 1950’s Ford station wagon,
stuck in the single lane of traffic, steam rising
from under the hood, pavement shimmering
with puddles of rays; “hot enough to
fry an egg on”, that’s what we would say

dragonfly

When the Bough is Broken

Awakened by slashing sounds of charging forces
I discover giant claws changing my landscape,
chaos on the horizon, nature being shifted,
foundations shaking, gutted earth gaping,
a new path appears – the price of dream making.

In the shaded afternoon spot under the walnut tree,
where I collected the mail and squirrels gathered nuts,
the lacy limbs bearing first fruits are stripped,
ground to dust and carried away; my heart is bruised.
I feel the yank of the roots being forced from the earth.
Where will the mockingbird perch in the evening?
Where will the towhees sing their morning call?

“Nothing is lost” my friend whispers softly, “Nothing is lost.”
With a slow shake of my head I reply,
“Though much is changed, much is changed.”

earth mover.jpg

Laurel River Hike

Grey skies with promise of afternoon
showers do not deter the five women,
willing to take a chance. Bodies
eager to keep moving forward,
spirits hungry for change of scene,
they enter  the rail-bed trail along
Big Laurel Creek, a forest path
waiting for new explorers. The hikers
willingly soak in the cleansing coolness
and pause to attend to the powerful pound
of rushing waters. Grace emerges to purge
the faint scent of defeat pushing against
the edge of  consciousness.

Bleached river boulders, shaken loose
from mountaintops eons ago profess
unseen messages inscribed in stone
– Stand firm. Stay strong.
Green moss, clinging with confidence,
celebrates the fertile embrace of unobstructed
sunlight through winter’s opened arms.
Fallen trees toppled by simple breeze
or furious storm display ancient time-worn roots,
Beavers mark their night’s labor, precision
cuttings that surpass the art of woodsmen.

Ten thousand steps of discovery,
the women ease off the nearly empty trail
moments before the first heavy drops of rain
silently erase the signs of a day’s journey.
Five indelibly marked travelers extend
thanks with appreciative sighs.

laurel-creek-river-stones

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

Butterfly Feast

Just after my noontime lunch, I sit on the porch with a glass of peach tea, hoping for a sacred pause in a day that moves quickly from beginning to end. Hanging pots of pink and purple flowers, freshly watered, attract butterflies looking for what they want most out of life – a taste of heaven.

Butterfly sips sweet
nectar, delicate wings fold,
poised to return thanks.

No bells call you to
worship. Only the delight
nature freely gives.

One fleeting moment,
my heart stills, beholding this
eucharistic feast.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac tells us that butterflies and flowers were made for each other and that, as other poets pointed out, “butterflies are flying flowers, and flowers are tethered butterflies.” Such is the communion of nature.

butterly wih folded wings