Wake Up and Wonder

Photo and text by Joe Grant © 2021

God’s Realm is like
someone who scatters seed on the ground.
Night and day while
the sower sleeps and rises,
the seed sprouts and grows,
but just how, no-one knows.

Mark 4:26

(A version of this reflection was posted in 2018)

Seeker,
What will awaken you to the hidden wonders of this day?

If you are fortunate
to wake up warmly
under soft, clean sheets,

conjure the sun-drenched cotton,
gathered and washed, dyed and woven, stitched
where nimble fingers and sweat come cheaply.

For there are others
who emerge after a noisy night under a bypass,
wreathed in cardboard, nestled in newspaper.

That rumble of natural gas or electrical hum
fueled by Nature’s captured treasure,
releases long-coveted sunlight from primeval forests.

Consider those once-green hilltops,
clear-cut, gouged and blasted-bare,
and the communities reliant on this predatory production.

In order that we might live, stars in their millions,
tens of millions, hundreds of millions even, have died.
The iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones,
the oxygen that fills our lungs each time we take a breath
– all were cooked in the furnaces of stars
which expired long before the Earth was born.

Marcus Chown

Stepping into a steaming shower,
you are refreshed by waters redirected,
piped, purified and warmed,

mindful that clean water
still remains beyond the reach of millions,
who daily trek to standpipes, creeks and waterholes.

Now clad in underwear crafted in Bangladesh,
denim from Nicaragua, leather molded in Malaysia;
your body is swathed in the weary work of the world.

Cradling your steaming, morning brew,
from beans or leaves harvested in Sri Lanka or Guatemala,
you sip from a mug fired in a Chinese factory.

You smear your breakfast bread,
baked in a far-flung city,
with summer fruits, gathered from fields unknown.

And, savoring the rush of sweetness,
you reflect on other hungers unabated,
for warmth, food, friendship, and dignity.

Before even stepping outside, to inhale
the morning freshness with canticles of birdsong,
already you are gift-wrapped in a wonderfully wounded world.

While you slumbered, multitudes of unseen hands
worked land, shifted boxes, mined minerals,
to manufacture the material of your morning,

while good Earth relinquished
bounty of soil and rolling rivers
all to make each passing moment possible.

Radiance enlightens every morning
with the ageless interplay
of matter and energy, mixed with travail and tragedy.

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.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

Spidery filaments
of mystery, misery, and magnificence
entwine, to entangle us all in daily communion.

This tracery of holy connection revealed by dewdrops,
shimmering breezes and sparkling sunlight,
along with the frantic flapping of life, trapped in tragedy.

When next you step into the web of morning,
wearing the world and wondering about the Source,
may you be grateful for each momentary connection.

Antidotes
For the bored, wonder.
For the cynic, gratefulness.
For the prideful, awe.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

Only those who know
how blessed they are
can be blessing to others.

joe

Text and images by Joe Grant © 2021 All Rights Reserved

Visit my website: inthestormstill.com
A BOOK BY JOE GRANT

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By Joe Grant

Land Listening

Photo by Joe Grant © 2021

Notice the figs and other trees;
as soon as their leaves sprout
you can see for yourselves
that summer comes near.
So, when you see these things taking place,
know too that God’s Realm approaches.

Luke 21: 29-32

Seeker,
What is the land trying to tell you?

Though we might speed
through thin air
and on inflated wheels roll around

still our feet,
sooner or later,
must surely grace holy ground.

Bare your soles,
for this land
on which you stand is sacred.

Exodus 3:5

We might reduce the land
beneath and around us
to a resource, ready to be developed or exploited,

for it is foundation and
source of sustenance,
as well as sheltering living room.

We might perhaps perceive our selves
elevated, beyond earth,
supreme among beings.

And we might even harbor
the delusional grandeur
that timeless terrain is our exclusive domain.

Yet, before the stone-studded yard of graves,
the inevitability of being grounded
finally comes to rest.

For the soil beneath insulated soles
is but crumbled humus of long forgotten lives
that trod the clay before us.

And while we may ignore ground
disdain dirt, take earth for granted,
exhaust and despoil soil,

land has its own voice and,
heeded or not,
always has the last word.

If listening is love and love is listening,
then baring souls to greet the ground
becomes a radical act of adoration.

While we must toil to work the soil,
land needs to work on us,
and train us how to give and live in love.

I used to think the top global problems were
biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse
and climate change … I was wrong.
The top environmental problems are
selfishness, greed and apathy
and to deal with these we need
a spiritual and cultural transformation.

James Gustave Speth

Whether you realize it or not,
your home is already founded
on holy land, and everywhere,

in urban sprawl, deserted plain,
seashore, wood or mountain,
sacred sanctuary craves your presence.

Neither exiles, orphans, nor accidental tourists,
but pilgrims are we
always sauntering on “Sante Terre” – Holy Ground.

Perspective

Wilderness people
see a garden in waiting,
grace-land not wasteland.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

With the land itself as hermitage,
each leaf and blade of grass
offers a wide welcome home.

And amid a daily information deluge
ageless ground invites immersion
into the deep drift of untamed time.

Wider than heady self-preoccupations,
interiority and conceptual contemplation,
listening to land penetrates us with wild presence.

Here we remember the carbon of our body
was birthed from stardust
Here, with no land left to push us off
of we create Home amongst the stars
Here, shining, whole, and a hundred
unseeable colors
We are a migrant constellation

We are home
We are home

Jess X. Snow

Though we belong to earth,
pervasive alienation reveals that
we have lost our place in the chorus of creation.

So, we listen
not to save Earth
but to be restored and reclaimed by land.

With patient urgency earth aches
for us to end this self-imposed
exile from sacred soil.

So, as you listen to the land
may earth also listen through you
till you receive and share Ceud Mìle Fàilte
–a hundred thousand welcomes-home!

joe

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A BOOK BY JOE GRANT

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Scratchings, Poems & More

by Joe Grant

Gratefully Grounded

Photo by Joe Grant © 2021

How blest you lowly ones, you shall welcome the gift of earth.

Matthew 5:5

Seeker,
Have you yet realized today that it is all gift?

Lowliness presents a grounded perspective
that lays bare ignorance, illuminates frailty,
leaves space for learning, makes room for mystery.

For wisdom speaks of greatness
in small things, modest actions,
and humble people.

And respect for life (in every form),
is never, ever enough.
We are made for reverence!

You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel.

T.S. Eliot

Until we are awakened to astonishment,
upheld in awe, and buoyed by gratefulness,
though we may subsist, we may not be fully alive … yet.

From astounded, to awed, to grateful;
is the procession to wholly communion—
the fullness of sacramental living.

Humility unlocks gratitude,
so that grounded in gladness,
we might receive whatever life presents.

Antidotes
For the bored, wonder.
For the cynic, gratefulness.
For the prideful, awe.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

So much more than saying thank you,
great-fullness is the natural expression
of great-littleness.

To be grateful is to succumb
to a greater, evermore generous, bountiful Spirit
who inoculates us from profane (flat) living…

with wonder (remedy for boredom);
with awe (antidote to hubris);
with gratefulness (cure for cynicism).

Empty-handed humility
is crucial for a life
overflowing with abundance.

Gratitude fuels generosity;
the liberating giveaway of heart, mind, and spirit
that transforms an overfilled into a fulfilled life.

Humble Crumble
Tread gently the soil.
Beneath your feet, loved-ones sleep,
after years of toil.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

Here lies the key to joy,
in the welcome embrace of what is given,
rather than being by acquisition driven.

While we might manufacture fun,
joy will not be fabricated;
it is gift, pure and simple and free!

Nor can joy be contained or withheld;
it is the fruit of sharing gracefully.
Only a great fool forgets to be grateful.

You we praise, Maker of earth,
of heaven, of the seas and all they contain.
You grant justice to oppressed people,
provide bread for hungry souls,
free captives, open blinded eyes, raise up those bowed down,
love just folk, protect strangers and uphold vulnerable lives.

Psalm 146:6-9

Love is not mearsured by how much we give
but by how little
we hold back.

Heartfelt Thanks!

joe

Visit my website: inthestormstill.com
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Still in Stormy Times

Photo by Joe Grant © 2021

[A version of this reflection was posted in 2017]

As a furious gale arose, waves beat into the boat threatening to swamp it.
But he was asleep in the stern, so they woke him crying,
“Teacher, don’t you care that we are perishing?”
He awoke, rebuked the wind, and told the sea, “Peace! Be still!”

Mark 4:37-39

Seeker,
How can we be still, yet still be in the storms that surround us?

Disasters never fail
to move us,
or draw out the best in us.

For who can watch
a person, creature, community
or environment endure devastation,

without being disturbed,
touched, moved to connect,
and make some effort to alleviate suffering?

Innately human inclinations toward
compassion, mercy, forgiveness, justice
are essential expressions of divine likeness.

Holy One who is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and good to all.
Whose compassion extends over all creation.

Psalm 145:8-9

Devastations
of nature and lives
grace us with hard-holy questions:

Why do terrible things happen?
Why do the most vulnerable suffer most grievously?
What might happen if we let our lives become entangled with theirs?

As tragedies compound,
we strain to maintain
an attentive, focused and caring response.

Indeed, it only when winds die
and waters recede,
that the journey toward mending begin.

And how can storm-tossed people
sustain hope,
without a tsunami of human, moral and financial support?

We humans need hope.
We can survive without many of life’s physical, intellectual, and emotional realities,
but we cannot survive without hope.

Glenn Hinson

Catastrophe uncovers
a collective reservoir
of untapped resources.

We are stronger,
deeper, more caring
that we imagine.

Yet, we must confront other,
more insidious, storm tides;
fearful forces intent on driving and keeping us apart.

Divisive and distracting tempests
of self-preoccupation, grievance, cynicism
erode our capacity to care.

Unchallenged, such ideological influences
send us spinning frenetically,
beyond the reach of compassionate engagement.

I must confess, my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth …
There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair…
Our dreams will sometimes be shattered, and our hopes blasted.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Compassion cries to be unleashed,
mercy needs to be nurtured,
forgiveness begs for release.

Such truest reflections of our deepest nature
provide generous immunity,
against powers determined to pull us apart.

We are made for togetherness.
We are made for all the beautiful things that you and I know.
We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders.

Desmond Tutu

May the disturbing-consoling Spirit
keep folding us all back together
till we become a shelter in the eye of the inevitable storm.

joe

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Wild and Free

Photo by Joe Grant © 2021

Wind blows where it will.
You hear the sound,
and know not whence it came nor where it’s bound.
So it is with any of Spirit born.

John 3:8

Seeker,
What kind of spirit can bring you back to life?

There are people we know,
bound and bonded by grinding grievance,
compelled by forces of fear and disdain.

There are others,
animated, illuminated
liberated by fire without ire;

a twinkle of joy,
shining through sorrow
that erupts in magnanimous generosity.

There are gale forces
that tear
lives apart,

and there are
softly spoken promises
that breathe us back together.

He breathed over them saying, ‘Receive the Spirit Holy.

John 20:22

Even in a stagnant sea,
a lithe and feral spirit
in the deep swims free.

Out of stardust and cosmic debris,
out of failure and loss,
out of despairing depths,

an untamable, irrepressible,
tenacious force
groans to breach the surface.

The Celts of old,
like endangered indigenous
forest-dwellers today,

celebrated sacredness
inextricably woven through
a tartan tapestry of being.

The power of imagination makes us infinite.
When we tug at a single thing in nature,
we find it attached to the rest of the world …

So into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.
Most people are on the world, not in it …
In wildness lies the hope of the world.

John Muir

Persistent and enduring
Spirit still inspires sentience
and brings being freshly and freely to life.

In brilliance
that illuminates day,
and seeds timeless dark with sparkles,

ageless interactions and explosive obliterations
broadcast elemental energy to fertilize the void
and bring us to this shimmering moment.

We lose our souls
if we lose the experience of the forest,
the butterflies,
the song of the birds
if we can’t see the stars at night.

Thomas Berry

To those of wild wind born
the desecration of the great green
reflects a sickness of soul,

a fundamental lack
of humankindness,
that betrays a refusal to recognize

and reverence holy kinship
in miraculous emanation.
For environmental devastation surely follows nature deprivation.

I am Wind on Sea,
I am Ocean-wave,
I am Roar of Sea,
I am Stag of Seven Tines,
I am Hawk on Cliff ….

Song of Amergin

Such unfreedom is a byproduct
of beings ungrounded,
imprisoned in the isolation of individualism.

Calibrated by electronic information,
life and livelihood is no longer synchronized
to cycles of seedtime and harvest, fall and fallow.

Infected by otherworldly pieties,
that seek to flee a “vale of tears”
for a higher, purer plane,

adherents gaze heavenward,
encouraged to disregard
(soiled, dirty, mucky, base) earth and her beasts.

Such disembodied devotions
render religiosity cerebral and
fearfully disparage earthy fertility as seductive and sinful.

The radical remedy
offered by folk well-grounded in wilderness
is the liberating embrace of holy creaturehood.

May you recover the holy ground of being,
breathe a freshness to blow your mind
and set free your love for this lovely world.

joe

Visit my website: inthestormstill.com
A BOOK BY JOE GRANT