Beautiful and Terrible Things Will Happen




Here is the world.
Beautiful and terrible things will happen.
Don’t be afraid.
~Frederich Buechner


(Two local teens died in separate roll over car accidents yesterday)

Most days I depend on beauty
happening in the most unexpected places
and go looking for it.
But when the terrible crushes, bleeds and fractures us,
beauty hides its face,
what I fear most
is that I’ll not ever see beauty happen again.

We are told, again and again and again
every single day, if only we can hear:
here I am with you in this broken world-
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid





A Melting Pot of Hats



Stepping off the city sidewalk into this store
is to transport in time to a debonair era
where the covering on the head defined an individual
far beyond a pragmatic trucker’s baseball cap or skier’s stocking hat.

This is a place to leave behind the ordinary,
step away from the rush of the street
to find something extraordinary for the head of an uncommon man,
designed from wool, leather, straw or felt, sometimes trimmed in fur or feathers.

On this day the shoppers search high and low,
hushed and reverent in this haberdasher sanctuary
of stacked hats and wooden boxes, to peer in antique mirrors
turning this way and that, smoothing and adjusting dapper brims.

The array of choices is overwhelming,
as is the diversity of heads to cover,
from young to old, bald to shaggy,
a melting pot of noggins searching for a fitting crown.

Fedora, trilby, stetson, bowler, boater, beret, newsboy, homburg,
transforming the wearer beneath,  becoming equalizer
of generations, races, genders by fitting a worthy head:
making a statement without a word spoken.



Thy Fearful Symmetry



Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 

In what distant deeps or skies. 
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire? 

When the stars threw down their spears 
And water’d heaven with their tears: 
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
~William Blake from “Songs of Innocence”
On a warm summer day
in the middle of a modern city,
pressed up against the coolness of glass,
you snooze in the ultimate cat nap,
oblivious to those who long to touch your stripes
as if you were Lamb, not Tiger.

Your fierce and fearful symmetry,
made the Creator smile,
though teeth and claws lay buried behind soft fur;
and so He smiled as He made us,
even knowing our loss of innocence yet to come.

photo by Tomomi Gibson
photo by Tomomi Gibson

Moving Space




These trees are magnificent,
but even more magnificent is the sublime and moving space between them,
as though with their growth it too increased.

~Rainer Maria Rilke


Each birthday passing brings this realization:
the years themselves, as notable as they are,
mean nothing compared to all the million moments,
invisible as they may seem at the time,
that fill the moving space between the birthdays.

Each leaf distinguished only by its tremble
distinct from the next leaf,moved by breezes from unseen sources.






To Be Alive




You are alive.
It needn’t have been so.
It wasn’t so once, and will not be forever.
But it is so now.

And what is it like:
to be alive in this one place of all places anywhere where life is?
Live a day of it and see.
Take any day and LIVE IT.
Nobody claims that it will be entirely painless, but no matter.

It is your birthday and there are many presents to open. The world is to be opened.
It is the first day because it has never been before
and the last day because it will never be again.

~Frederick Buechner from The Alphabet of Grace


During these turbulent times
when too many regret living and quit,
when too many are deprived of taking a first breath,
when too many live shrouded in pain and sorrow:

I tend to forget each day is a gift to be opened and savored.
Each day a first day, a last day, a birthday of amazing grace.

I am alive, by God, it needn’t have been so, but is so now.






The World is Flux

The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow…

Doctor, if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.
~Lisel Mueller from “Monet Refuses the Operation”

It is all about the light
when it fluxes and flexes around us,
transforming us, making us something more
than how we started.

If I could only see this in each person,
how light and water transfigures the rankest weed
and the deepest shadows,
if only my heart could expand
as does the heart of God
when He claims us as His own…
then I could truly see,
how heaven pulls earth into its arms,
blue vapor without end.





An Immense Morning Sky

Republishing this as it ended up posted back in June rather than for July 24– sorry for the duplication




You are the future, the immense morning sky
turning red over the prairies of eternity…

You are the meaning deepest inside things
that never reveals the secret of its owner.
And how you look depends on where we are:
from a boat, you are shore, from the shore a boat.
~Rainer Maria Rilke,  from Love Poems to God from the Book of Hours


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Our Eyes Locked…




The weasel was stunned into stillness as he was emerging from beneath an enormous shaggy wild rose bush four feet away. I was stunned into stillness twisted backward on the tree trunk. Our eyes locked, and someone threw away the key.

Our look was as if two lovers, or deadly enemies, met unexpectedly on an overgrown path when each had been thinking of something else: a clearing blow to the gut. It was also a bright blow to the brain, or a sudden beating of brains, with all the charge and intimate grate of rubbed balloons. It emptied our lungs. It felled the forest, moved the fields, and drained the pond; the world dismantled and tumbled into that black hole of eyes. If you and I looked at each other that way, our skulls would split and drop to our shoulders. But we don’t. We keep our skulls. So.
~Annie Dillard from “Living Like Weasels”

I watch you.  And you me.  Our eyes locked and someone threw away the key.







The Solemnity of Eggs




And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.
In the robin’s nest there were Eggs and the robin’s mate sat upon them keeping them warm with her feathery little breast and careful wings.
….in the garden there was nothing which was not quite like themselves—
nothing which did not understand the wonderfulness of what was happening to them—
the immense, tender, terrible, heart-breaking beauty and solemnity of Eggs.

If there had been one person in that garden who had not known through all his or her innermost being
that if an Egg were taken away or hurt the whole world would whirl round and crash through space and come to an end—
if there had been even one who did not feel it and act accordingly there could have been no happiness even in that golden springtime air.
But they all knew it and felt it and the robin and his mate knew they knew it.
~Frances Hodgson Burnett from The Secret Garden


This is shared in light of the current controversy over the value of the newly formed,
in essence “the Egg”, whether it may be financial or moral,
–  each tiny part of the least of these  –
– whether brain, heart, lungs or liver –
is wonderfully made, whether unwanted or discarded.

The act of creating something so sacred is immense, tender, terrible, beautiful, heart-breaking,
and so very solemn.

The act of hurting this one tiny part of creation hurts the whole world; we risk whirling round and crashing through space
and coming to an end.