All Hallowed Be!

Photo by Joe Grant © 2021

Do not stop the little ones but let them all come near.
To the likes of these does the Hallowed Domain belong.

Matthew 19:14

Seeker,
What legacy are you leaving for the littlest?

Autumn arrives to decorate death,
and with fiery fullness lays a red carpet down
for stark winter’s dark approach.

Through this unspooling season,
we wonder and worry
about other changes still unfolding.

From the cavern of remembrances
a seasoned memory surfaces,
early echo from my Amazonian sojourn.

Once, while visiting communities
that toil in the muddy soil
of the rolling amber river,

the leader opened a sabbath gathering
with the call: “The world has changed!”
to which the gathered responded, “Thanks be to God!”

This was followed by the chant:
“The world is still changing!”
and the crowd released the cheer, “To God thanks be!”

Inner Eye
With only our eyes
so much do we overlook
that insight perceives.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

The terrors of climate catastrophe
and worsening devastations of global disease
can cloud even the clearsighted.

For the sake of our souls,
for our children and for theirs,
for the wellbeing of our creature kin,

urgently we need to listen longer
to the land from which we come
to which soon we shall return.

Over ever evolving eons,
earth has weathered
cataclysmic waves of extinction.

In a mere handful of centuries
catastrophic human “un-kind-ness”
has despoiled the soil, water, and air that all beings share.

Now, a fevered globe seeks to stem the chronic
contagion and contain the wastage of global consumer
culture. Though well-warned and informed, somehow,
we remain unwilling to weigh the cost of a consequential
truth:
Whatsoever we do unto neighborhood, we do unto ourselves.
And what, I wonder, will our children’s children say
as they bear the burden of our careless consumption?

Joe Grant, Scratchings

Weighing Worth
At what price this senseless squander,
who must pay the cost
that burdens children’s children
with life already lost?

Swamped by information,
wisdom out of view,
our scales all imbalanced,
our measurements askew.

Facing such distortion
lives no longer weigh the same,
some are offered privilege,
and others only pain.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

In an all-hallowed home
we re-place holiness that points to “perfected”
with the “wholly-ness” of being completely connected.

As northerners traverse the liminal line,
rolling from equinox toward solstice,
and enter that “thinning time” of darkening days,

may we reverence
all earthling creatures
both of day and night,

and with gentlest care
daily demonstrate
what it means to let the children near.

Hallowed all are we,
each and every one,
under a weak and wintry sun.

For we have arrived
this hallowed day
through strength of sun,
softness of air,
swiftness of water,
stability of soil,
shelter of shade,
chorus of creatures,
and warm embrace of friendship:

Holy before,
sacred above,
spirit within
homeland beneath,
inside, and all around.

and hallowed be the name
of all our earthy kin,
each a likeness of Thy image holy.

joe

Text and Images by Joe Grant © 2021

Visit my website: inthestormstill.com
Now available here. To see more: inthestormstill.com

Scratchings is so much more than a collection of poetry and reflective verse. It is eye-opener, mindfulness-maker, veil-lifter, kinship-keeper. It is a portal into the sacred arising through the ordinary, an entryway into the soul-full-ness of every single thing. Joe’s in-sight and perception not only show us, they teach us: scratch the surface of any single thing and, indeed, you’ll find it lit from within; only “pay dues of attention” to any experience and you’ll find burning bushes at every turn. If you’re wanting a quick read, opt for a different book; if you want to linger with life and swim out into mystery, let Scratchings be your companion.

  • JoAnn Gates, Director of Knobs Haven Retreat Center, Loretto, Kentucky

Holy Humus

Text and Photo by Joe Grant © 2021

Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain,
flourishing and yielding thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold.

Mark 4:8

Seeker,
When was the last time you bared your soles to grace the ground?

Daily, we tread
or trample
a lush, living carpet.

Upon this thin floor
of muddy vitality
the elements of our existence depend.

What disdainfully we call dirt
(as in dirty) or soil (as in soiled)
is actually the miracle beneath!

People usually consider walking on water or air a miracle.
But the real miracle is not to walk either on water or thin air, but to walk on earth.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Our scriptural name
“ADAMAH” or “grounded one”,
describes our earthy roots.

“Human” reflects humble origins,
for we are “humus-beings,”
earthlings realized from sacred soil.

From dirt, Holy One formed “Adamah,” blowing breath of life into its nostrils.

Genesis 2:7

Dirt is no dead thing.
Each topsoil ounce holds countless communities,
billions of invisible microorganisms.

One in four forms of life
on our planet
thrives in the dank recesses beneath our soles.

Unseen and unknown decomposers
recycle the necessary elements of life
till even deserts bloom in their season.

Earth purifies water, absorbs waste,
and welcomes us back
to remake our husk into a life-giver.

Source of nourishment,
sacred soil provides raw material for reality,
and cradles the bones of our ancestors.

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

Joe Grant, Scratchings

When walking the woods,
for the recovery of soul,
I cast my gaze upon leafy litter scattered about me.

Such mucky miracles, earthy wisdom, loamy lessons,
fruits and seeds of innumerable seasons,
strewn at my feet.

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees takes off his shoes.

Elizabeth Barret Browning

While briefly living along the Amazon,
I was awed by immeasurable companies of crawlers
that cover every available centimeter of forest floor.

To this day, the aroma of wet leaves
carries me back
to Amazonian epiphanies—

from our insect planet
rooted in a film of mud,
every imaginable form of breathing life erupts;

from towering mahogany to scarlet macaws;
in over-abundance
known and named only by indigenous (landed) peoples.


In our fleeting lifespan we are gifted
with a multitude of graces
in three dimensions.

Illumined Grace gasps in wonder;
at sunsets, ocean vistas,
misty mountain peaks.

Dark Grace visits
in the panged embrace of suffering,
letting go and losing all we hold dear.

Earthed Grace
mixed into the messy busyness of living—
presents bounty revealed to the lowly, who are close to the ground.

It is left to mystics, prophets, poets, and
primal communities to re-mind us of the hallowed
ground upon which every sole stands and the
animating air that fills the lungs of each holy,
breathing body.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

With dusty hands and muddy feet,
let gratitude erupt for the blessing of being holy humus,
graced to walk humbly this goodly garden.

joe

Text and Images by Joe Grant © 2021

Visit my website: inthestormstill.com
Now available here. To see more: inthestormstill.com

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