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

COMING SOON

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
A BOOK BY JOE GRANT

COMING SOON

SCRATCHINGS, Poems & More by Joseph Grant

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Creaturehood

(A version of this reflection was posted in 2017)

Photo by Joe Grant © 2021

Look closely at the ravens.
They do not sow or harvest.
They have neither storehouse nor barn.
Yet, Holy One sustains them.

Luke 12:24

Seeker,
When was the last time Nature made you whole?

Deprived of natural habitat
we retreat into the head,
to feast on flashing images, make ideas our daily bread.

No creature
is designed or destined
to be caged.

All are fashioned
freely to roam,
broadly to range.

Thus, the majestic magnetism of Creation
exerts a hold on the soul;
not merely as playground, but original living room.

God is ever at home,
it’s we who’ve gone out for a walk.

Meister Eckhart.

Woody wilds
still possess power to captivate,
for we but recently clambered down from trees.

Walking leafy woodland
we break out of a heady hermitage,
back to holy ground where all belong.

But how can we know creaturehood
until we recover relationship
with the soil and seasons of natural neighborhood.

The moment we step outdoors,
draw breath and wander the wilds,
observers no longer, but participants are we.

The real prayers are not the words,
but the attention that comes first.

Mary Oliver

Failing to thrive in artificial isolation,
nature deprivation
spawns synthetic spirituality—spiked with unholy dualism.

Denied organic connection,
inhumane nature concocts conditions
that alienation people from planet.

Consider multitudes,
brothers, sisters, neighbors all,
consigned to shanty-town, defined by suburban sprawl.

Expanding mega-cities
fostering amnesia about sacred sister species,
breeding disdain for creatures who creep or swim or fly.

Such earthy expressions of creaturehood,
with every right to livelihood,
have much to teach that sanctifies and makes us whole.

How many are your works, Holy One!
In wisdom you made them all;
earth is brimming with your creatures.

Psalm 104:24

Pilgrims, not exiles, on this planet,
we root for restoration;
to reclaim our place in an expanding universe.

Timeless rocks, endless stars,
expansive ocean depths, holy hills—
all living facets of Life that lives in us.

Wherever we pay attention,
Creation obliges with magnificent demonstrations
of gentleness, generosity, tenacity, liberation.

Remove the sandals from your feet,
for soulful is the ground beneath your soles.

Exodus 3:5

Without teachings from figs and fungus,
rocks, worms, and wrens,
how can we understand outlasting life?

This grand show is eternal.
It is always sunrise somewhere;
the dew is never all dried at once;
a shower is forever falling;
vapor is ever rising.
Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset,
eternal dawn and gloaming,
on sea and continents and islands,
each in its turn,
as the round earth rolls.

John Muir

Are we not here to magnify munificence,
and do justice that paves the way for beauty—
truest trademark of our Maker?

Have we not power in our holy hands
to bring back balance,
and mirror magnanimity resplendent in Creation.

May you, this day, go out of your way
to let Nature school your soul
and restore Holy Creaturehood.

joe

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

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SCRATCHINGS: Poems & More by Joe Grant

Let in De-Light

Photo by Joe Grant © 2021

[A version of this reflection was first posted in 2016]

If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Matthew 6:23

Seeker,
What sights have you taken in today?

Looking back to childhood,
I am struck
by how often we had our windows cleaned.

Every other week,
with ladder, bucket and cloth,
a window-cleaner appeared.

After a splash and squeaky wipe,
crystal clarity
brought into sharper focus beauty and blight.

If the doors of perception were cleansed
all would appear as it is, infinite.

William Blake

With each passing moment
countless images flicker
before ever-hungry eyes.

Such a volume of visual stimulation
illuminates optic nerves
and fires frenzied neurons in our brains.

Cascading thoughts,
ideas, visions, sensations
course through our pulsing center.

Picture the graphic noise
that illustrates
the news of just one day:

moving messages and retinal flashes,
tinted by culture, colored by ideology,
perspective refracted through passion and pain.

What today have you seen or selected,
overlooked or filtered,
blindly blocked or deftly deflected?

No eye has yet seen, nor ear heard, nor heart conceived,
what the Holy One has is store for those who love.

1 Corinthians 2:9

Whether clouded by confusion,
fogged by anger, steamed with passion,
smudged by cynicism,

or made dusty with distraction;
the opaque lens of the soul
requires regular wiping,

so we might cut through clutter to clarity,
and welcome what life presents
with the fresh bright eyes of a child.

We don’t see things as THEY are.
We see things as WE are.

Talmud

If you are intent on neighbor-keeping,
with a head for justice and a tender heart,
it helps each day to cleanse the lens.

Nor dare we disregard darkness,
or close our lids to problem and pain,
but rather rinse insight in mercy’s rain.

When the world looks only grimy,
when hope and possibility are obscured,
that’s the time for window-wiping, to let in delight.

Clean the pains with wonder and lament,
for the tears of sorrow and laughter you share,
let in delight to dissipate despair.

Create in me a wiped-clean heart,
and place within a fresh and steady spirit.

Psalm 51:10

No matter where your eyes come to rest,
may you look long and lovingly,
till delight breaks in and brightens.

joe

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

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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