Wild Wisdom

Images and text by Joe Grant © 2022

In the wilds a voice cries, “Ready the way …”

Matthew 3:3

What are you learning as you listen to life?

In countless company,
beneath a mottled canopy, I stand,
ankle-deep in matted green, head in the sway,

aware that before my arrival
multitudes have been raised here.
Others too have sprouted and withered.

Still more have roamed;
hunter and hunted,
forager and cultivated.

How many eyes now
watch over these woods,
as invisible voices call out through dark and day?

This sanctuary slope
with cloudy cathedral dome
that belongs to all and none,

through spiraling seasons,
shelters and supports
any who choose to visit and bide herein.

And the longer I linger,
still, slow, and steady,
place and person meld into mutual re-cognition.

I am but a collection of atoms more tightly bound to one another than to those surrounding.
I am an ecosystem, a world of bacteria, viruses, fungi without whose functions I could not exist.
I breathe in the sweet air of the trees around, breathe out carbon that they will use and return to me. I eat and drink their flesh, it forms my own, while I shed my skin walking among them, the dust of myself returning to enrich the earth.
I am one small part of this community, a node in the web of relationships that holds this place, that holds me in this place.
I am this place, and this place is I.

Marchelle Farrell

Only now can
wilder wisdom coalesce,
sensations that start to speak sense.

Of boundless hospitality:
Indiscriminate inclusion blossoms into wellbeing,
a complementarity of need and gift that makes us whole.

Of brevity and mortality:
The silent sweep of the vulture’s shadow
contrasts brightness with shades of impermanence.

Of expansive time:
To the zipping hummingbird I appear listless,
to the ancient Oak, but a flash, brief as a glinting leaf.

Of endless space:
A fiery streak across a spangled sky
highlights pilgrim photons, on epic journeys
to illuminate glassy eyes with points of perpetual light.

Sharing the elemental material of universe,
we claim essential connection
to neighborhood that is cosmic, galactic, solar and global,
as well as parochial and particular.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

So much to take in
with each brief breath,
mysteries to be supped and savored, never solved.

As distance dissipates,
disturbing veils of separation,
the prophetic cry of wilderness resounds

with welcome and warning
in language lost to all
but those “soiled” souls and hermit hearts.

I bind myself this day
To strength of sky
Radiance of sun
Brilliance of moon
Splendor of fire
Speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind
Depth of sea
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock.

Attributed to Padraig of Armagh

May wisdom untamed delight and disrupt
you to the core and set you free
to cherish all within your arc of care.


Available here

Scratchings invites one to explore a world of meaning delving deep beyond the surface to something truly human, truly spirit, truly personal. Challenged to ask the hard, difficult questions, the ones that come when you are deep in silence, or tending a garden, I found that Scratchings takes you on a path not necessarily where you will find the answers but to a profound engagement in the on-going and evolving search for truth. Your own. Touching a yesterday that opens gently into a tomorrow. A safe place to remember. A wonderful place to Dream.

  • Sr. Sue Scharfenberger, osu, Lima, Peru

Into the Quiet

Images and text by Joe Grant © 2022

But blessed are your eyes and ears because they see and hear.

Matthew 13:16

Where do you enter quiet that clears eyes, ears, and heart?

Isn’t it astounding
what attentive senses perceive
when assaulted by stillness?

Conditioned by saturating sound,
buzzing hum
and raucous rattle

that punctuate bustling days
and perforate disturbed nights,
is it no wonder that soul-deep rest eludes us?

Acclimated to noisy living,
a first plunge into pervasive quiet gently soothes,
before shocking with wakefulness.

For quiet is never soundless.
The longer we listen, the more silence says,
in a thousand hushed and harsher voices.

Snap of Day
Have you heard the sound
when dawn cracks darkness open
as a crisp day breaks?

Joe Grant, Scratchings

And have you tried listening
beyond hearing,
to calm beneath commotion?

With senses attuned
to subtler resonances
below sonic blast,

softer cries and gentler invitations
disturb inner drumming,
when hammer and anvil are no longer on overdrive.

Behind traffic drone,
roaring high and rumbling around,
blended with the monotone of household machinery,

smaller sounds surface with the cries of neighbors,
creature chirps and all the calls
that rise above the woodwind symphony.

Lean close to listen
until heartbeats harmonize
and spirit song rhymes.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

Listen long enough
and become sensible
to rain-song and the hiss of mist.

As quiet turns inner turmoil tranquil,
even mountains,
clouds and stars too, start to speak.

Thus, the sacred salve of silence
heals and liberates

No kind of communing
more intensely intimate
can there be
than bravely listening to life.

Joe Grant, Scratchings

Our love-scape,
the breadth of
compassionate connections to life,

is defined
by how much,
and how long we care to listen.

Not all quiet [people] are humble,
but all humble [people] are quiet.

Wisdom of the Desert Hermits

Choosing the quiet,
and entering even quieter stillness,
liberates love for storm-tossed times.

Since listeners are lovers,
may you abide in a silent land
long enough to become a hushed healer

who let’s worried, harried hearts
know the primal peace
that surpasses understanding.


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