Wild Wisdom

Images and text by Joe Grant © 2022

In the wilds a voice cries, “Ready the way …”

Matthew 3:3

What are you learning as you listen to life?

In countless company,
beneath a mottled canopy, I stand,
ankle-deep in matted green, head in the sway,

aware that before my arrival
multitudes have been raised here.
Others too have sprouted and withered.

Still more have roamed;
hunter and hunted,
forager and cultivated.

How many eyes now
watch over these woods,
as invisible voices call out through dark and day?

This sanctuary slope
with cloudy cathedral dome
that belongs to all and none,

through spiraling seasons,
shelters and supports
any who choose to visit and bide herein.

And the longer I linger,
still, slow, and steady,
place and person meld into mutual re-cognition.

I am but a collection of atoms more tightly bound to one another than to those surrounding.
I am an ecosystem, a world of bacteria, viruses, fungi without whose functions I could not exist.
I breathe in the sweet air of the trees around, breathe out carbon that they will use and return to me. I eat and drink their flesh, it forms my own, while I shed my skin walking among them, the dust of myself returning to enrich the earth.
I am one small part of this community, a node in the web of relationships that holds this place, that holds me in this place.
I am this place, and this place is I.

Marchelle Farrell

Only now can
wilder wisdom coalesce,
sensations that start to speak sense.

Of boundless hospitality:
Indiscriminate inclusion blossoms into wellbeing,
a complementarity of need and gift that makes us whole.

Of brevity and mortality:
The silent sweep of the vulture’s shadow
contrasts brightness with shades of impermanence.

Of expansive time:
To the zipping hummingbird I appear listless,
to the ancient Oak, but a flash, brief as a glinting leaf.

Of endless space:
A fiery streak across a spangled sky
highlights pilgrim photons, on epic journeys
to illuminate glassy eyes with points of perpetual light.

Sharing the elemental material of universe,
we claim essential connection
to neighborhood that is cosmic, galactic, solar and global,
as well as parochial and particular.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

So much to take in
with each brief breath,
mysteries to be supped and savored, never solved.

As distance dissipates,
disturbing veils of separation,
the prophetic cry of wilderness resounds

with welcome and warning
in language lost to all
but those “soiled” souls and hermit hearts.

I bind myself this day
To strength of sky
Radiance of sun
Brilliance of moon
Splendor of fire
Speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind
Depth of sea
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock.

Attributed to Padraig of Armagh

May wisdom untamed delight and disrupt
you to the core and set you free
to cherish all within your arc of care.


Available here

Scratchings invites one to explore a world of meaning delving deep beyond the surface to something truly human, truly spirit, truly personal. Challenged to ask the hard, difficult questions, the ones that come when you are deep in silence, or tending a garden, I found that Scratchings takes you on a path not necessarily where you will find the answers but to a profound engagement in the on-going and evolving search for truth. Your own. Touching a yesterday that opens gently into a tomorrow. A safe place to remember. A wonderful place to Dream.

  • Sr. Sue Scharfenberger, osu, Lima, Peru