But blessed are your eyes and ears because they see and hear.Matthew 13:16
Where do you enter quiet that clears eyes, ears, and heart?
Isn’t it astounding
what attentive senses perceive
when assaulted by stillness?
Conditioned by saturating sound,
and raucous rattle
that punctuate bustling days
and perforate disturbed nights,
is it no wonder that soul-deep rest eludes us?
Acclimated to noisy living,
a first plunge into pervasive quiet gently soothes,
before shocking with wakefulness.
For quiet is never soundless.
The longer we listen, the more silence says,
in a thousand hushed and harsher voices.
Snap of DayJoe Grant, Scratchings
Have you heard the sound
when dawn cracks darkness open
as a crisp day breaks?
And have you tried listening
to calm beneath commotion?
With senses attuned
to subtler resonances
below sonic blast,
softer cries and gentler invitations
disturb inner drumming,
when hammer and anvil are no longer on overdrive.
Behind traffic drone,
roaring high and rumbling around,
blended with the monotone of household machinery,
smaller sounds surface with the cries of neighbors,
creature chirps and all the calls
that rise above the woodwind symphony.
CompanioningJoe Grant, Scratchings
Lean close to listen
until heartbeats harmonize
and spirit song rhymes.
Listen long enough
and become sensible
to rain-song and the hiss of mist.
As quiet turns inner turmoil tranquil,
clouds and stars too, start to speak.
Thus, the sacred salve of silence
heals and liberates
No kind of communingJoe Grant, Scratchings
more intensely intimate
can there be
than bravely listening to life.
the breadth of
compassionate connections to life,
by how much,
and how long we care to listen.
Wisdom of the Desert Hermits
Not all quiet [people] are humble,
but all humble [people] are quiet.
Choosing the quiet,
and entering even quieter stillness,
liberates love for storm-tossed times.
Since listeners are lovers,
may you abide in a silent land
long enough to become a hushed healer
who let’s worried, harried hearts
know the primal peace
that surpasses understanding.
Scratchings by Joe Grant provides a fascinating journey showing the extraordinary wisdom and beauty found in the most ordinary of events. While appreciating events such as the beauty of a leaf falling and the often-unnoticed activities in the backyard of his inner city neighborhood, the journey also takes us far and wide from his childhood in Scotland, to his mission experience in the Amazon rainforest, and even to the site of genocidal massacre in Rwanda. Each episode draws the reader in with exquisite language and creates a picture that engages the imagination. The word play, rhyming, cadence and alliteration are delightful and evocative.
In a powerful section of his book called Epiphany, Joe reflects on the in-breaking moments of graced awareness:
To the awakened,
every sunrise is a first
brilliant blush of brand-new creation
each frigid breath suspended,
a sacramental exhalation
in conspiration of
He goes on to write, “sometimes a singular ray pierces perception to jolt us into wakefulness with a radiant revelation that all ground is hallowed.”
This beautiful book is for me a meditation on our amazing yet troubled world. Joe’s book helps me to see the sacred mysteries which are all around us.
- The Rev. Karl Ruttan, Ph.D., Episcopal priest and spiritual director