People who dwell in darkness have seen great light,Matthew 4:16
and daylight has dawned on those who in death’s shadowland abide.
As we welcome
the gratuitous gift
of one more daystar pilgrimage,
and the northern sweep of sphere
wobbles us back
into golden glare,
as we relentlessly roll on,
it is fitting to review ways and means
we need to leave in the shadows that stretch behind us.
For, together and apart,
long have we traversed a lonely wasteland
of extremes in climate, calamity, and confusion.
As ice melts, cultural crevasses expand
heated fissures in the fragile façade
of social and spiritual convention.
With raw humanity exposed,
our hurtful, vulnerable hearts on show,
we each must decide which way to go.
You know, now that anything can happen,Joyce Sutphen
it’s hard to know what will, and what will you
do now that you know? What words will you say
now that you could say anything? What hands
will you hold? Whose heart will beat inside you?
Now the promised light returns
to beckon us from clammy caves,
burn off fever dreams and delusions,
and entice us with the amazing grace
of being brought back together,
from isolation to congregation under the same sun.
In the reclamation of relationship,Joe Grant, Scratchings
we find our way out of the dumps,
and uncover treasure that truly matters
amid the rest of the mess.
In the wilds we are taught
to trust and listen to earth
who longingly waits to welcome us all home.
Yet the rocky road to homeland reclamation
is uneven terrain
that requires us to lighten the load.
In this lightening, lengthening season
may you cultivate contemplation and choose compassion,
in celebration of our whole earth community.
May you freely gift attention
to the needs of neighbors and nature
and decline the addictive poisons of distraction and division.
And may your come into your own
in a green and growing and goodly
What would you harvest from heartache and painBernadette Miller
if you understood loss as a way to regain
the never-forsaken terrain of belonging?
Let this be your homecoming year
as you embrace a slower, lower, gentler,
quieter quality of presence,
so nature might reclaim you
and lead you to the rest
and restoration you sorely seek.
A Personal Note
After ten years, this Still In The Storm blog will reflect a personal shift in my own life to include time shared in a new rural hermitage in the Holy Hills of Kentucky. You may notice this shift in focus and format in the year ahead.
I offer this poetic illustration as a grateful blessing to you for this new year.
Just when you think you’re all by yourself by Joe Grant After a week of home internment I stole away from my downtown hermitage to a wilder woody place, where I was sure no one else would be. There, for some time I stood by the pond where once a wood drake dazed me with red-eyed iridescence. While drinking in delight re-baptized by nature, the raucous complaints of crows roused me from reflection. Looking up, I met the yellow stare of a red-tailed hawk, proudly perched, pale breast to the wind, as she monitored her domain. Quietly we communed before she swept majestically away, and the song of Amergin, ancient bard of the Celts, flew to mind: I am Wind on Sea, I am Ocean-wave, I am Roar of Sea, I am Stag of Seven Tines, I am Hawk on a Cliff, I am shining tear of the Sun I am fairest of flowers ... Realization came to light as clouds shifted, flooding land with a brilliance that narrowed eyes to a peep. Here was I, solitary but not alone, and with slightest transmutation, isolation evolved into solitude. While no thing essentially changed, everything glowed with the golden welcome of the wilds. Getting out of my head, distance dissolved to let me let everything come near. Though nothing had become clear, I found myself communing with congregations of fair wildflowers that glistened back with smiles of sun-sparkled dew.
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