Two Poems for the new year:
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Within This Strange and Quickened Dust
O God, within this strange and quickened dust
The beating heart controls the coursing blood
In discipline that holds in check the flood
But cannot stem corrosion and dark rust.
In flesh’s solitude I count it blest
That only you, my lord, can see my heart
With passion’s darkness tearing it apart
With storms of self, and tempests of unrest.
But your love breaks through blackness, bursts with light;
We separate ourselves, but you rebind
In Dayspring all our fragments; body, mind,
And spirit join, unite against the night.
Healed by your love, corruption and decay
Are turned, and whole, we greet the light of day
"Jesus, Springing" words Kevin Crossley-Holland (1941-) music Bob Chilcott (1955-)
I am the heart that houses the cone,
the cone enclosing the cedar,
I am the cedar sawn for the cradle,
forest of the body, body of the tree.
I am the cradle rocking the baby,
I am the baby containing the man,
I am the man nailed on the cross,
tree of the body, body of the forest.
I am the cross sawn from the cedar,
I am the cedar enclosed in the cone,
I am the cone housed in the heart,
here in my heart Jesus, springing.
FULL COLD MOON KISS TONIGHT!
The December full moon is also known as "the long nights moon" and sometimes, "the moon before Yule." This year is special, the cold moon will end the year with a "planetary kiss" between Saturn and Venus (they will appear closer in the night sky - less than 2 degrees apart). At my house this hanky-panky will occur 12 minutes after midnight.
"This is the traditional day to give thanks. Traditions, of course, are based on customs and beliefs transmitted from generation to generation. Those we observe at Thanksgiving are mostly rural- the bountiful harvest, the gathered family, the roasted turkey the feast, the thankful prayer. And all with the generous land close about, a world of fields made fruitful by calloused hands. The thanks were for health and strength and independence.
Looking back now, in a land whose people are largely urban, the day may seem to have only token meaning. And surely one day out of the year is not too much to think back and remember. The day of thanks goes back to a little band of immigrants fighting a strange wilderness, painfully getting a foothold there They had little enough to be thankful for, yet they were grateful for survival and hoped for better days beyond the winter that was closing in. They had faith and believe and even dreams, though those dreams could not encompass what has come after them.
So the traditions are as important as the thanks themselves. The symbols are not without meaning, for they rest on the land's own bounty, on work and achievement, on obligations as well as rights. Nobody has yet outmoded harvest, or plenty or gratitude.
Thanksgiving is more than a feast. It always was. It is recognition of the providence, the work, the hope and the dreams that are in our very blood and being. It is thanks for the traditions themselves." Hal Borland
The Faces of Deer
by Mary Oliver
When for too long I don't go deep enough
into the woods to see them, they begin to
enter my dreams. Yes, there they are, in the
pinewoods of my inner life. I want to live a life
full of modesty and praise. Each hoof of each
animal makes the sign of a heart as it touches
then lifts away from the ground. Unless you
believe that heaven is very near, how will you
find it? Their eyes are pools in which one
would be content, on any summer afternoon,
to swim away through the door of the world.
Then, love and its blessing. Then: heaven.
“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans--and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused--and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.”
― Sigrid Undset
By Danusha Laméris
I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”
" A framed photo, like a pot or a pen or a table, must serve its purpose, just as it is, without apps or upgrades. In the digital era, this irreducible thingness may seem like a drawback. But let's not forget that it is also an enduring human value. A well-made object is informed by thousands of years of accumulated experiment and know-how. Whenever we make or use an everyday tangible thing, or even when we contemplate one seriously, we commune with this pool of human understanding."
- Glenn Adamson