POETRY: Lead by Mary Oliver

March 30, 2018

Here is a story to break your heart. Are you willing? This winter the loons came to our harbor and died, one by one, of nothing we could see. A friend told me of one on the shore that lifted its head and opened the elegant beak and cried out in the long, sweet savoring of its life which, if you have heard it, you know is a sacred thing, and for which, if you have not heard it, you had better hurry to where they still sing. And, believe me, tell no one just where that is. The next morning this loon, speckled and iridescent and with a plan to fly home to some hidden lake, was dead on the shore. I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the [...]

POETRY: Mindful by Mary Oliver

March 21, 2018

Everyday I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light. It was what I was born for— to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world— to instruct myself over and over in joy, and acclamation. Nor am I talking about the exceptional, the fearful, the dreadful, the very extravagant— but of the ordinary, the common, the very drab, the daily presentations. Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help but grow wise with such teachings as these— the untrimmable light of the world, the ocean’s shine, the prayers that are made out of [...]

POETRY: Flying Fowl, And Creeping Things, Praise Ye The Lord by Isaac Watts

August 1, 2017

Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl. (Psalm 148:9-10) Sweet flocks, whose soft enamel’s wing Swift and gently cleaves the sky; Whose charming notes address the spring With an artless harmony. Lovely minstrels of the field, Who in leafy shadows sit, And your wondrous structures build, Awake your tuneful voices with the dawning light; To nature’s God your first devotions pay, E’er you salute the rising day, ‘Tis he calls up the sun, and gives him every ray. Serpents who o’er the meadows slide, And wear upon your shining back Numerous ranks of gaudy pride, Which thousand mingling colors make Let the fierce glances of your eyes Rebate [...]

POETRY: The Slip by Wendell Berry

June 25, 2017

The river takes the land, and leaves nothing. Where the great slip gave way in the bank and an acre disappeared, all human plans dissolve. An aweful clarification occurs where a place was. Its memory breaks from what is known now, and begins to drift. Where cattle grazed and trees stood, emptiness widens the air for birdflight, wind, and rain. As before the beginning, nothing is there. Human wrong is in the cause, human ruin in the effect—but no matter; all will be lost, no matter the reason. Nothing, having arrived, will stay. The earth, even, is like a flower, so soon passeth it away. And yet this nothing is the seed of all—heaven’s clear eye, where all the worlds appear. Where the imperfect has departed, the perfect begins its [...]

POETRY: Nothing Is Too Small Not To Be Wondered About, by Mary Oliver

May 20, 2017

The cricket doesn’t wonder if there’s a heaven or, if there is, if there’s room for him. It’s fall. Romance is over. Still, he sings. If he can, he enters a house through the tiniest crack under the door. Then the house grows colder. He sings slower and slower. Then, nothing. This must mean something, I don’t know what. But certainly it doesn’t mean he hasn’t been an excellent cricket all his [...]

POETRY: How The Grass And The Flowers Came To Exist, A God-Tale, by Mary Oliver

May 14, 2017

I suppose the Lord said: Let there be fur upon the earth, and let there be hair upon the earth, and so the seeds stuttered forward into ripeness and the roots twirled in the dark to accomplish His desire, and so there is clover, and the reeds of the marshes, and the eelgrass of the sea shallows upon which the dainty sea brant live, and there is the green and sturdy grass, and the goldenrod and the spurge and the yarrow and the ivies and the bramble and the blue iris covering the earth, thanking the Lord with their [...]

POETRY: Spring Beholding, by Mary F. C. Pratt

May 3, 2017

The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything. (Julian of Norwich) Otter washing her paws in the cold pond water. Bluebird, robin, forgotten songs come home. Vulture and hawk soaring the slope. Three thin deer, feet splayed in dry grass. Squirrels. Rabbits. Stones. Snowmelt, icy from the hills. Logging truck grunting far down the road, its work its purpose, its heavy [...]

POETRY: Binsey Poplars, by Gerard Manley Hopkins

April 23, 2017

felled 1879 My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled, Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun, All felled, felled, are all felled; Of a fresh and following folded rank Not spared, not one That dandled a sandalled Shadow that swam or sank On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank. O if we but knew what we do When we delve or hew— Hack and rack the growing green! Since country is so tender To touch, her being só slender, That, like this sleek and seeing ball But a prick will make no eye at all, Where we, even where we mean To mend her we end her, When we hew or delve: After-comers cannot guess the beauty been. Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve Strokes of havoc únselve The sweet especial scene, Rural scene, a rural [...]

POETRY: Spring Forward by Abigail Carroll

March 29, 2017

The crocuses have nudged themselves up through the snow, have opened, never are opening, always daring, Ephemeral prophets, first of the sun’s spring projects, purple- throated chorus of will-have-beens— year after year, their oracles outlast them. Cold’s empire has not yet been undone, but the cardinals have begun to loudly declare its undoing, which is as good as the thing itself, as good as the gutters’ wild running, the spilling of rain down the tar-slick roof, the filling and pooling, the annual re-schooling of earth in the vernal properties of water. A bud both is and is not a flower: furled flag, curled-up tongue of summer, envelope of fire— What is this world but a seed of desire some dream-bent farmer sowed [...]

LENTEN MEDITATION: Final Sanity by Phyllis Tickle

March 14, 2017

From: Wisdom in the Waiting: Spring’s Sacred Days The forty penitential weekdays and six Sundays that follow Mardi Gras and precede Easter are the days of greatest calm in the church’s year.  Since by long centuries of custom the date of Easter is annually determined from the first Sunday after the full moon on or after March 21, the intertwining of physical and spiritual seasons is virtually inevitable.  The resulting union of deep winter and holy preparation makes reflection, even penitence, a natural activity. One night years ago, toward the end of winter, there was a storm, a cold front shifting suddenly and dropping onto us with ferocity and winds that bent down the pine trees along the fence line.  Sometime after I [...]

POETRY: The Beautiful, Striped Sparrow by Mary Oliver

February 27, 2017

In the afternoons, in the almost empty fields, I hum the hymns I used to sing in church. They could not tame me, so they would not keep me, alas, and how that feels, the weight of it, I will not tell any of you, not ever. Still, as they promised, God, once he is in your heart, is everywhere— so even here among the weeds and the brisk trees. How long does it take to hum a hymn? Strolling one or two acres of the sweetness or the world, not counting a lapse, now and again, of sheer emptiness. Once a deer stood quietly at my side. And sometimes the wind has touched my cheek like a spirit. Am I lonely? The beautiful, striped sparrow, serenely, on the tallest weed in his kingdom, also sings without [...]

POETRY: Dawn Walks In Blue And Diamonds by Franz Wright

February 10, 2017

Dawn walks in blue and diamonds in robes of darkest grain wind-parted ☆ Sleeping she looked like a river Like a river at dawn, silver sliver of moon, wind in poplars, flickering of a candle that grows imperceptibly taller as it burns Manacled girl naked surrounded by flames, gigantic rose of painless fire— ☆ Now I have passed through voice and fire could I be cleansed of all desire, I don’t think so Icon: cold gold telepathic eyes ☆ Sacrament of metaphor, sacrament of matter ☆ Aren’t stars almost in your vicinity It was only the barest beginning starward- bound, only the March branches, only the first gifts of the first awakening waiting forever to be born… ☆ Dawn walked in blue and diamonds. [...]


December 22, 2016

From The School of Charity He shewed me a little thing, says Julian of Norwich, the quantity of a hazel nut in the palm of my hand; and it was as round as a ball.  I looked thereupon with the eye of my understanding and thought: “What may this be?”  And it was answered generally thus: “It is all that is made.”  In this Little Thing I saw three properties.  The first is that God made it, the second is that God loveth it, the third, that God keepeth it. That is a saint’s comment on the first article of her Creed.  It is a vision that takes much living-out in the world in which injustice and greed are everywhere manifest; full, too, to tendencies which we are able to recognize as evil, and of misery and [...]

POETRY: Rinsed With Gold, Endless, Walking The Fields by Robert Siegel

November 30, 2016

Let this day’s air praise the Lord— Rinsed with gold, endless, walking the fields, Blue and bearing the clouds like censers, Holding the sun like a single note Running through all things, a basso profundo Rousing the birds to an endless chorus. Let the river throw itself down before him, The rapids laugh and flash with his praise, Let the lake tremble about its edges And gather itself in one clear thought To mirror the heavens and the reckless gulls That swoop and rise on its glittering shores. Let the lawn burn continually before him A green flame, and the tree’s shadow Sweep over it like the baton of a conductor, Let winds hug the housecorners and woodsmoke Sweeten the world with her invisible dress, Let the cricket wind [...]

POETRY: The Rat Of Faith by Philip Levine

October 26, 2016

A blue jay poses on a stake meant to support an apple tree newly planted. A strong wind on this clear cold morning barely ruffles his tail feathers. When he turns his attention toward me, I face his eyes without blinking. A week ago my wife called me to come see this same bird chase a rat into the thick leaves of an orange tree. We came as close as we could and watched the rat dig his way into an orange, claws working meticulously. Then he feasted, face deep into the meal, and afterwards washed himself in juice, paws scrubbing soberly. Surprised by the whiteness of the belly, how open it was and vulnerable, I suggested I fetch my .22. She said, “Do you want to kill him?” I didn’t. There are oranges enough for him, the [...]

POETRY: October by Louise Glück

October 14, 2016

1. Is it winter again, is it cold again, didn’t Frank just slip on the ice, didn’t he heal, weren’t the spring seeds planted didn’t the night end, didn’t the melting ice flood the narrow gutters wasn’t my body rescued, wasn’t it safe didn’t the scar form, invisible above the injury terror and cold, didn’t they just end, wasn’t the back garden harrowed and planted– I remember how the earth felt, red and dense, in stiff rows, weren’t the seeds planted, didn’t vines climb the south wall I can’t hear your voice for the wind’s cries, whistling over the bare ground I no longer care what sound it makes when was I silenced, when did it first seem pointless to describe that sound what it sounds like can’t change [...]

POETRY: Impromptu Novena In September by William Wenthe

October 7, 2016

Understand the light, then, and recognize it. (Corpus Hermeticum) Memory is a kind of accomplishment. (William Carlos Williams) I Birdsong on the book page, birdsong on the brown rug; fanfare of birdsong above the radio orchestra; birdsong in shafted light of the wooden blinds. In one moment I heard them—by which I mean they’d all along been singing, building in my ear, but only just then, my brain embraced what it heard— all the neighborhood birds, a seamless textile of song. Ordinary song, but not the ordinary time for singing— was it something to do with sunlight, returning this afternoon after days’ long cloud-dregs of a distant hurricane? Maybe there’s a cause; but cause belongs to time. What I heard was other than time. [...]

POETRY: Morning Reflections by Enuma Okoro

August 26, 2016

What is this unfolding, this slow- going unraveling of gift held in hands open to the wonder and enchantment of it all? What is this growing, this rare showing, like blossoming of purple spotted forests by roadside grown weary with winter months? Seasons affected, routinely disordered by playful disturbance of divine glee weaving through limbs with sharpened shards of mirrored light, cutting dark spaces, interlacing creation, commanding life with whimsical delight. What is this breaking, this hopeful re-making, shifting stones, addressing dry bones, dizzying me with blessings, intercepting my grieving and raising the dead all around me? [...]

POETRY: White Owl Flies Into And Out Of The Field by Mary Oliver

August 13, 2016

Coming down out of the freezing sky with its depths of light, like an angel, or a Buddha with wings, it was beautiful, and accurate, striking the snow and whatever was there with a force that left the imprint of the tips of its wings—five feet apart— and the grabbing thrust of its feet, and the indentation of what had been running through the white valleys of the snow— and then it rose, gracefully, and flew back to the frozen marshes to lurk there, like a little lighthouse, in the blue shadows— so I thought: maybe death isn’t darkness, after all, but so much light wrapping itself around us— as soft as feathers— that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking, and shut our eyes, not without amazement, and let ourselves be [...]

POETRY: Deer Crossing the Sea by Larissa Szporluk

August 1, 2016

Many things were like sleep, wholly in the power of the forest, the deep middle, deep shiver, deep shade, from which many things ran, unawake, in search of new mountains to graze, covered in flowers, my love, I am sick, or covered in snow, pink with algae, in search of impossible light made of water, whose sapphire waves swathed their heads, you were only a dream, as they swam out to meet it, kicking their hooves, no longer breathing, because no one or nothing can quit once the body gets wind of an eden—the promise of nectar haunts them forever, the shore pecked out of their eyes, and there, in its stead, something greater to catch, a scent that would paralyze [...]

POETRY: Some Further Words by Wendell Berry

June 24, 2016

Let me be plain with you, dear reader. I am an old-fashioned man. I like the world of nature despite its mortal dangers. I like the domestic world of humans, so long as it pays its debts to the natural world, and keeps its bounds. I like the promise of Heaven. My purpose is a language that can pay just thanks and honor for those gifts, a tongue set free from fashionable lies. Neither this world nor any of its places is an “environment.” And a house for sale is not a “home.” Economics is not “science,” nor “information” knowledge. A knave with a degree is a knave. A fool in a public office is not a “leader.” A rich thief is a thief. And the ghost of Arthur Moore, who taught me [...]

POETRY: For Calling The Spirit Back From Wandering The Earth In Its Human Feet by Joy Harjo

May 25, 2016

Put down that bag of potato chips, that white bread, that bottle of pop. Turn off that cellphone, computer, and remote control. Open the door, then close it behind you. Take a breath offered by friendly winds. They travel the Earth gathering essences of plants to clean. Give it back with gratitude. If you sing it will give your spirit lift to fly to the stars’ ears and back. Acknowledge this Earth who has cared for you since you were a dream planting itself precisely within your parents’ desire. Let your moccasin feet take you to the encampment of the guardians who have known you before time, who will be there after time. They sit before the fire that has been there without time. Let the Earth stabilize your postcolonial [...]

POETRY: Banding by Suzanne Underwood Rhodes

April 6, 2016

The nets of God hang in every wild place to catch the unwary migrant, one with the skull another to fall from the sky on the ten-thousandth mile, but when he holds one of those small, terrified bodies like a jewel between his thumb and forefinger and unfans the wing to measure it, secretly admiring the bars he conceived to catch his own hungry eye, and the little claw foot he rings with a coded band that numbers the feathers and weds him forever to the pulse in his palm that recalls his own heaving heart the day he flew into a net and hung there thirsting in the woods where only a wasp moved, flicking cobalt wings, when he lets go, when he flings what he has marked into emptiness, he follows the speck with his eye to South America and [...]

POETRY: That Nature Is A Heraclitean Fire And Of The Comfort Of The Resurrection by Gerard Manley Hopkins

March 30, 2016

Cloud-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows flaunt forth, then chevy on an air- Built thoroughfare: heaven-roysterers, in gay-gangs they throng; they glitter in marches. Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, wherever an elm arches, Shivelights and shadowtackle ín long lashes lace, lance, and pair. Delightfully the bright wind boisterous ropes, wrestles, beats earth bare Of yestertempest’s creases; in pool and rut peel parches Squandering ooze to squeezed dough, crust, dust; stanches, starches Squadroned masks and manmarks treadmire toil there Footfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, nature’s bonfire burns on. But quench her bonniest, dearest her, her clearest-selvèd spark Man, how fast his firedint, his mark on mind, is gone! [...]

WISDOM: Nature by Joan Chittister

December 12, 2015

From Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light A philosopher asked Saint Anthony: “Father, how can you be enthusiastic when the comfort of books has been taken away from you?”  And Anthony replied: “My book, O Philosopher, is the nature of created things, and whenever I want to read the word of God, it is right in front of me.” W   here is God?” the catechism asked.  “God is everywhere,” the catechism answered.  The answer is often ignored, but the answer, if God is really God, is certainly true.  God is the stuff of the universe.  In everything created resides the energy, the life, the image, the nature of the creator. To know the creator, it is only necessary to study [...]

CREATION: Natural Knowledge Of God Is “Natural” by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen

August 13, 2015

From Trinity and Revelation Both common sense and Christian tradition have always believed that the “traces” of God are to be found in the world God created.  This intuition can even be placed in a wider framework in the history of religions and of cultures: “The idea that a transcendent reality can be known or at least intimated through the mundane has a long history and is not a specifically religious idea.” (Alister McGrath)  To say that common sense and Christian intuition have posited the existence of God on the basis of the created order is not to say that the expressed doctrine of natural theology has always been a pedigree of Christian theology.  Indeed, “natural theology – as this notion would [...]

POETRY: The Brown Forest by Robinson Jeffers

August 12, 2015

I entered the life of the brown forest And the great life of the ancient peaks, the patience of stone, I felt the changes in the veins In the throat of the mountain… and I was the stream Draining the mountain wood; and I the stag drinking; and I was the stars, Boiling with light, wandering alone, each one the lord of his own summit; and I was the darkness Outside the stars, I included them, they were part of me. I was mankind also, a moving lichen On the cheek of the round stone…they have not made words for it, to go behind things, beyond hours and ages, And be all things in all time, in their returns and passages, in the motionless and timeless center, In the white of the fire…how can I express the excellence I have found, that has [...]