What Awaits?

Photo and text by Joe Grant © 2021

Stay watchful and awake for neither day nor hour are known to you.

Matthew 25:13

Seeker,
Have you ever felt that everything has been waiting for you?

Enthralled by the wind-whisked waltz
of crinkled leaf casings
skittering across the path,

or blood-red berry bunches
glistening on stickled twigs
that decorate a crisp winter morning,

could it be ridiculous
to consider that all this
was just waiting, wanting, willing to be noticed?

What else might beauty be,
if not the beaming resonance
of being, fully recognized.

Landscape isn’t just matter.
It is actually alive, and it recalls us
into a mode of silence and solitude
where you can truly receive time
.

John O’Donohue

As we enter the umbra of ecological eclipse,
where earth and moon, stars and galaxies
are blotted and blotched by our own shadow,

surely now is the moment to incline ears to the ground,
and raise the gaze skyward
to heed the urgent appeal of this hour.

Before rushing headlong,
committed to compliance or rebellion,
first comes attentive watchfulness,

welcoming wild wisdom
offered by beauty and blight,
wordlessly proclaimed by nature.

For earth herself is hermitage,
miraculous, solitary sanctuary
silently spinning through spacious dark.

Revolving
Rolling dark to light
in endless revolution,
bright fades back to black.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

Could contemplation,
simply understood and eagerly embraced,
be the art of attention, the practice of noticing?

Could such communing too
evolve into mutual conversation,
where a waiting world readily reveals itself to the watcher;

this golden morning,
this smoldering evening,
this patient blanket of night,

this breathy moment,
dressed up in delight and disturbance,
wanting to be noted and known?

In relation to the earth, we have been autistic for centuries.
Only now have we begun to listen with some attention
and with a willingness to respond to the earth’s demands
that we cease our industrial assault,
that we abandon our inner rage against the conditions of our earthly existence,
that we renew our participation in the grand liturgy of the universe.

Thomas Berry

Without willing attention,
waiting and watching,
listening and learning from lengthy conversations with life,

how can we enter
the fullness of now,
this appointed time, this critical hour?

Be still
Listen to the stones of the wall
Be silent, they try
To speak your

Name.
Listen to the living walls.

Thomas Merton

Counting down the days,
months and minutes
to global climate catastrophe,

the earth clock gives us a handful of years
to wake up and shake up
demented patterns and degrees of separation,

and alerts us to disastrous portents,
already in motion,
that await our children and theirs.

All the while, a living tapestry
anxiously anticipates our awakening,
waiting to welcome us home.

Awash in mass distraction,
with “virtual” misdirection
masquerading as reality,

may you awaken from hypnotic hallucination
to attend the miracles that await
in sights, sounds and scents all around.

Let Life lead us from the unreal into the real,
so together we might face all that awaits,
clear eyed and open hearted.

joe

Visit my website: inthestormstill.com
Now 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

Table Setting

Photo and text © Joe Grant 2021

When you give a banquet, invite the people who are poor, broken, blind …

Luke 14:13

Seeker,
How do we live authentically in such divisive times?

When they were small,
our children would clamber onto our laps
each time we gathered at table.

Every conflict,
whether familial or foreign,
inevitably leads to a table.

Sooner or later
factions and fighters
convene at this woody altar.

In our mindful moments,
we set a table in the round,
holding souls open, ripe and available.

Here we leave space for unexpected guests—
wisdom, awareness, perspective—
to sit with us.

Stirring Silence
I dare not erase disquiet.
Struggles and sorrows
are not just background noise.

Aches, hopes, hurts,
gritty and global,
that always appear
are not a side-show I can choose to ignore.

For love is also a verb;
momentum to disturb complacency,
passion that pains,
burning as it heals …

Joe Grant, Scratchings

Receptive prayer
does not permit
tuning-out

but leans in,
to let in
life’s swelling symphony,

from birdsong to train horns,
sirens to serenades, protests to gunshots,
verbal disputes to quiet kisses.

In the Maker’s magnanimous lap,
whether troubled or tender,
both welcome and table are wide.

Here and now we can be,
the beloved community,
There is room at the table for everyone.

Carrie Newcomer

At its core,
contemplative living presents
the disturbing paradox of restful unease.

Settling into stillness,
ready and reachable,
we become hospital to grievance as well as glory.

Companioning
Lean close to listen
until heartbeats harmonize
and spirit song rhyme
s.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

Awaken to those awaiting relief
in the wake of earthquake or storm,
or huddled in flickering candlelight after another massacre.

Listen to wails and worries of parents and children
facing illness and loss,
violent attack or repressive force.

Visualize yearnings for peace,
etched on faces
from every faith and holy land.

Here do we attend
to crisis and cries from creature kin,
across our tortured planet home.

And adding or opening new leaves,
we stretch the surface capacity
so all can hear what it takes to care.

In communion and commotion,
in celebration and reconciliation,
may we keep setting that table.

Companions cannot afford
to accept violations
as inevitable.

Just as we carry within
some fragment of discord and turmoil,
so too we bear some measure of tenderness:

listening hearts,
inclined to the torment and tears
of families dear, scattered afar and gathered near.

Don’t hide, don’t run,
but rather discover,
in the midst of fragmentation,
a new way forward:
a different kind of journey
marked by its fragility, uncertainty, and lack of definition.
And on that path
to hold these hands
that even in their brokenness create a new tomorrow.

Peter Millar

So, as you in silence sit
to weep and wonder,
set a place for unexpected visitors.

Windsong
Tickled by a breeze,
solemn chimes softly chuckle
discord to concord.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

Crack the door at your core,
let that wilder spirit sweep in
who turns all strangers back to kin.

joe

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

Joe Grant is a seer and a sayer, a prophet and a poet. He divines the divine in the everyday stuff of life and speaks the essential truth that every place can be a thin place, every time Kairos time. Scratchings is Joe at his alliterative best, offering us a beautiful sacramental vision in which Spirit weaves us into a great, timeless community with each other and with the more-than-human world. This quiet, gentle, but powerful book is absolutely necessary medicine for our troubled times.

  • Kyle Kramer, Executive Director of the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center,
    author of Making Room: Soul-Deep Satisfaction Through Simple Living
    (Franciscan Media, 2021)