May 2021 (Vol. XXXIV, No. 5)

"Is there enough Silence for the Word to be heard?"

Dear Friends ~ May, the month of spring in its fullness, a lovely midway point in the journey to the glorious long hours of summer light. The season is one of blossoming and resurgent life. There is much to be grateful for, to celebrate, to love. Yet as I walk in the greening forest so dear to me, I hold the knowledge that nothing stays: I have left my daily, intimate acquaintance with this place. The forest, for her part, is passing too: already the bluebells by the river's edge have vanished; the dogwood blossoms have fallen. Moreover, the changing climate is putting its own mark on many of the places and beings I have cherished. This is the exquisite melody of mortality. Mary Oliver hums it in giving her well -known advice on living from her poem "In Blackwater Woods":

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.


Ah, but how? How to sway gracefully in this bittersweet, ever -changing, threshold dance of receiving and letting go? How to open the heart knowing that sooner or later it will be broken?

Not for answers, but for courage, I turn to those wiser than I, to the "soul -criers". When I am weary of holding my head up, I follow the advice of Martin Shaw and "allow the great soul-criers to do it for me". Astonishingly, the song they cry is one of belonging and joy, the deep knowledge of having a place in this wondrous, wheeling universe; of being eternally companioned, blessed to behold beauty and to see the miraculous in the everyday, to walk moment by moment in the presence of the Holy.

In this glorious and beautiful springtime of the world, may it be so. ~ Lindsay

 

The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.
~ Joanna Macy

 

The winter is cold, is cold.
All's spent in keeping warm.
Has joy been frozen, too?
I blow upon my hands
Stiff from the biting wind.
My heart beats slow, beats slow.
What has become of joy?

If joy's gone from my heart
Then it is closed to You
Who made it, gave it life...

Help me forget the cold
That grips the grasping world.
Let me stretch out my hands
To purifying fire,
Clutching fingers uncurled.
Look! Here is melting joy.
My heart beats once again.
~ Madeleine L'Engle in THE ORDERING OF LOVE

After the one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down aeons of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with ever-fresh vigor. The whole show has been on fire from the word go. I come down to the water to cool my eyes. But everywhere I look I see fire; that which isn't flint is tinder, and the whole world sparks and flames.
~ Annie Dillard in PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK

 

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth...

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing...
~ Naomi Shihab Nye from "Kindness" in WORDS UNDER THE WORDS

 

I am, you anxious one.

Do you sense me, ready to break
into being at your touch?
My murmurings surround you like shadowy wings.
Can't you see me standing before you
cloaked in stillness?...

I am the dream you are dreaming.
When you want to awaken, I am that wanting:
I grow strong in the beauty you behold.
And with the silence of stars I enfold
your cities made by time.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy in A YEAR WITH RILKE

 

 

Eternal Listener, give heed to

your people...

Restore us, O Holy One;
let your face shine upon us,
teach us to love...

You companion us through the wilderness,
through the shadows created by fear.
You plant your Seed into each heart...

Restore us, O Holy One!
Let your face shine upon us,
teach us to love!
~ Nan Merrill from "Psalm 80" in PSALMS FOR PRAYING

 

I see that life's uphill
From here on out. My tiny art,
Circling its grief, will have to grow
Joyous the only way it knows how.
~ Frank Steele, quoted by Martin Shaw in A BRANCH FROM THE LIGHTNING TREE

 

I had no idea that the gate I would step through
to finally enter this world
would be the space my brother's body made. He was
a little taller than me: a young man
but grown, himself by then,
done at twenty-eight, having folded every sheet,
rinsed every glass he would ever rinse under the cold
and running water.
This is what you have been waiting for, he used to say to me.
And I'd say, What?
And he'd say, This—holding up my cheese and mustard sandwich.
And I'd say, What?
And he'd say, This, sort of looking around.
~ Marie Howe from "The Gate" in WHAT THE LIVING DO

 

'Tis a fearful thing
To love
What death can touch.
To love, to hope to dream,
And oh, to lose.
A thing for fools, this,
Love,
But a holy thing
To love what death can touch.
~ 12th century poem quoted by Francis Weller in THE WILD EDGE OF SORROW

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