Re-Presenting Ourselves

Images and text by Joe Grant © 2022

You will surely listen, but fail to comprehend,
and you will look, but fail to perceive.
For people’s hearts have calloused,
their ears hard of hearing, their eyes tight shut …

Matthew 13: 14-15

“Why don’t YOU go into the woods at night?”
a young Amazonian villager once quizzed me,
skeptical of my unearned status as “apprentice shaman.”

Only a true shaman
would venture out alone
to brave the dangers of the dark.

Laughter erupted when I admitted
to my fear of getting lost,
as he patiently explained, “the forest already knows you’re here!”

My soul turns into a tree,
And an animal, and a cloud bank.
Then changed and odd it comes home
And asks me questions. What should I reply?

Herman Hesse

Among those who study nature,
who let themselves be openly available
and willingly wander the wilds,

it is commonly understood
that when we stand still
and quietly present ourselves,

after only fifteen minutes
nature comes near, to reintroduce itself,
as life reaches in and curiously connects.

You take a final step and, look, suddenly
You’re there. You’ve arrived
At the one place all your drudgery was aimed for:
This common ground

David Wagoner

In this shift from observer to participant,
lost in immersion,
we discover ourselves

soulfully inseparable,
forgetful of all delusions
of aloofness.

Beyond the transactions of
an outsider looking in
or an insider looking out,

presenting whole selves
without expectation or agenda,
we cross a threshold into a deeper conversation:

listening beyond hearing,
seeing being looking,
feeling beyond touching.

Once we give up our masks and excuses,
we are humbled
to accept the tenderness
of having nothing between us
and this thing we call life.

Mark Nepo

Now, tentative creature kin
creep close, then closer still,
to begin gentle reacquaintance and reclamation.

Such welcoming wisdom,
marvels and miracles beyond words,
free-gifted and broadly dispersed

await the self-gifting
and childlike aimless intention
of presenting and re-presenting ourselves,

ready to be received,
content to be captivated,
eager to be enchanted.

A garden stops you, shuts you up. It turns you under to its own purposes, sows its own gift: the knowledge that we are small and our seasons are brief. But if we harvest generosity and beauty, they will somehow, almost always, be enough.

Susan Clotfelter

In less than a lifetime,
as our human family doubles
to encompass eight billion souls,

pushing creature companions
to the brink and
consigning our children to unbearable alienation,

may you heed the urgent appeal
from the earth community entire,
that we rediscover our place in Creation’s chorus.

Sifting through crisis
our hearts open to gratefulness for this opportunity
that renews itself moment to moment in process—
an invitation to become
while discovering the fullness of who
we already are.

Marie Marchand

We might start with the simple yet seismic
fifteen-minute practice of re-presenting ourselves,
willing to be welcomed back and restored.

Woven in oneness,
a single seamless garment,
leaving no loose ends.

Joe Grant, Scratchings


Available here

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
spirit holy.

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