A Witnessing Presence




Are we to look at cherry blossoms only in full bloom, 
the moon only when it is cloudless?  
To long for the moon while looking on the rain, 
to lower the blinds and be unaware
of the passing of the spring – 

these are even more deeply moving.  
Branches about to blossom
or gardens strewn with flowers
are worthier of our admiration.

~Yoshida Kenko





Sometimes the mountain
is hidden from me in veils
of cloud, sometimes
I am hidden from the mountain
in veils of inattention, apathy, fatigue,
when I forget or refuse to go
down to the shore or a few yards
up the road, on a clear day,
to reconfirm
that witnessing presence.
~Denise Levertov  “Witness”




Even on the days like today when the mountain is hidden behind a veil of clouds,
I have every confidence it is there.
It has not moved in the night, gone to another county, blown up or melted down.

There are more days its snowy peak is hidden
than days it is blossom-stark floating cloud-like above the horizon of our barn roof

Visitors to the farm are too often told “the mountain is right there”
as I point to a bank of nondescript gray clouds

My loving and longing for it, my knowing it is always there, in hiding,
moves me more than the days it is simply given to me.

I keep coming back to gaze, sometimes just at clouds, yearning to lift the veil,
and lift my veil, just one more time.

The beauty of anticipation,
confident of fulfillment to come
my thirstiness
to be slaked
my hunger to be


photo by Nate Gibson

5 thoughts on “A Witnessing Presence

  1. Just so I love the mystery within fog that can conceal the islands, the nearby boats, and sometimes even the very edge of our bank overlooking the rocks down to high tide line in Casco Bay, ME.


  2. Comforting, hopeful — a metaphor at its deepest and most descriptive of what is there NOW — and what awaits us — even (or especially) at those times when we cannot see ‘the mountain’ in all of its realistic majestic Presence because of the clouds (veils) and other distractions that occur in our lives.

    Thank you, dear Emily, for that needed reminder of what we may at times take for granted — or are too indifferent to pursue the vision and the reality of the Blessed Presence that IS there for us — and always will be.

    Denise Levertov’s added inspiration suggests some very real human ‘excuses’ for not wanting to ‘see and experience the mountain.’ (Oh, the misguided decisions that we humans sometimes make!)

    Liked by 1 person

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