In seeing they fail to perceive and in hearing fail to listen,Matthew 13:13
nor do they truly understand.
How much do you notice when you let life come into focus?
Beneath clamoring commerce,
despite the bombed-out sacrilege of war,
spring continues to sing.
And through every concrete crack
Abandoned lots, littered alleys,
rusted railyards, blasted buildings,
all emerald spackled with tenacious tendrils.
coaxes birds to turn twists of trash
into baskets for little shelled miracles,
as once again,
drains and ditches
are dappled with delicate wildflower blossoms.
So, out of wastage and neglect,
spectacular newness to life.
With gratuitous displays of gentle resilience
in resplendent beauty, Creation calls out,
willing, waiting, wanting to be noticed.
Always surprising, vibrant, and verdant,Joe Grant, Scratchings
irrepressible spring softens winter sharpness.
So long we languished,
in urgent anticipation
of this stunning revolutionary season.
Yet, how many work-a-days
with scarcely a sideways rearview glance?
Thus, the seasonal details and brilliant illustrations
of hard, healing wisdom are lost
to unseeing, unhearing, uncaring appetites.
Is this not the exuberant way of wisdom, whereJoe Grant, Scratchings
losses fuel and fertilize disparate awakenings? And
here perhaps lies a distinction between fecundity
and productivity. In broad dispersal, not every effort
need come to fruition, not every idea conceived lead
to invention, not every initiative achieve realization,
for not all hatchlings are destined to fledge, nor every
seed take root.
A first blush of wakefulness
naturally stops at the stain, balks at the blemish,
punctured by sorrow, arrested by travesty.
But persevering in the practice of noticing
presents other soul-penetrating perspectives
in all-surrounding scent, sight, and sound.
Only from the mire
of failure, death, and defeat
is hope resurrected.
The hardest part of giving
is not giving up, but giving in
to relentless resurgence.
And yes,Joe Grant, Scratchings
to believe again,
with a necessary change in hindsight,
that nothing is ever really lost,
for the worst and worn-out and wasted
still are needed
to fertilize the freshly seeded.
Out of spare soil
and cold starkness,
tender possibilities erupt
and springtide becomes
our most reliable parable,
a living illumination of enduring love.
uncontrollable and inconceivable
this slowly expanding explosion.
How could we miss its message,
overlook its wonders
or fail to receive its earth-shattering revelation?
love is more thicker than forgete.e. cummings
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail
May your days be interrupted
detoured and delightfully disrupted
by the largesse of lifegiving abundance.
May you be stopped and stunned
heartsore at malignance,
breathless before magnificence.
Yet, from the smallest sparkling smidgen of
radiation, a life-making planet redeems gracious self-giving
with miraculous expressions of life in myriad form.
All this snatchedJoe Grant, Scratchings
from glancing solar breezes,
so life might endlessly endure, less concerned
for harvest, resolutely focused
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
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