Do not stop the little ones but let them all come near.
To the likes of these does the Hallowed Domain belong.
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 EyeJoe Grant, Scratchings
With only our eyes
so much do we overlook
that insight perceives.
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 chronicJoe Grant, Scratchings
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
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?
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 distortionJoe Grant, Scratchings
lives no longer weigh the same,
some are offered privilege,
and others only pain.
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
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:
inside, and all around.
and hallowed be the name
of all our earthy kin,
each a likeness of Thy image holy.
Text and Images by Joe Grant © 2021
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