And there will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars,Luke 21:25
and upon earth distress among nations
perplexed by the roaring, roiling surge of the seas.
Where do you go to glimpse timeless brilliance?
I cherish the unclouded memory
of an Amazonian night,
when I lay on the boat roof
before a bejeweled blanket
that pulsed with the powdery glow of Milky Way
and shimmering Southern Cross.
Sitting up to scan the broad obscurity
of the oily river, I was star-struck
by celestial scintillations reflected below.
For the first time in my firefly existence,
as we navigated spangled infinity,
I realized that we live in a limitless sky.
With the advent of artificial light, nighttimeJoe Grant, Scratchings
has been demystified and the preoccupations as well as
those lessons presented only by winter’s long-lingering
shadow are now chased back and warmed away.
Decades of inner city living
beneath buzzing glare
that blinds eternity’s skylight,
my floodlit senses
are nightly numbed,
by dancing arcs of artificial illumination.
How I have longed to resume
that quiet conversation
with the wilderness above,
to sense the subtle resonance of the spheres,
welcome timeless twinkling photons,
and savor the magnetic delights of the Northern Lights.
In necessary darkness we perceiveJoe Grant, Scratchings
trillions of tiny loving kindnesses,
whispered blessings, quiet, impassioned petitions,
conspiring about a better world
forever in the re-making.
Like every voyager before us
we rely on the sky
to find our bearings,
to witness the echoes of fiery origins
and explosive new beginnings
through swirling stellar illumination.
Without this cosmic canvas,
like misguided moths we are blunted
by our own flickering luminosity,
cut off from nocturnal reconnections
to our elemental essence
as bright, brief reflections of ancient radiance.
your body contains at least a liter of sunlightHakim Bellamy
and stardust radiating from every smile.
How can we hope
to perceive our place
in the sacred sweep of unfathomable space
if we never stand beneath
the pitch black span of sky
and reclaim our night vision.
May you make a break for the quiet dark,
dim your headlights
and open wide the shutters of your heart.
Up LookJoe Grant, Scratchings
Life will get you down.
So, tilt your head, raise your gaze,
let your spirit soar.
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