A Light from the Shadows



All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
~J.R.R. Tolkien


   Now burn, new born to the world,
      Doubled-naturèd name,
   The heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled
Mid-numbered he in three of the thunder-throne!
Not a dooms-day dazzle in his coming nor dark as he came;
      Kind, but royally reclaiming his own;
A released shower, let flash to the shire, not a lightning of fíre hard-hurled.
~Gerard Manley Hopkins from “The Wreck of the Deutschland”


We tend to forget we too are heaven-flung;
each of us plain and ordinary and numerous as the weeds of the field
until the Light comes upon us from the shadows,
illuminated gold and dazzling,
fire-awakened, hard-hurled and reclaimed as His own.
He calls us each by name,
knows each slender thread of hair on our heads.
We may wander, oh do we wander,
but are not lost
as long as our faces remain turned toward Him.


Ice Burns



Ice burns, and it is hard to the warm-skinned to distinguish one
sensation, fire, from the other, frost.
~A. S. Byatt from Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice

Compared to the rest of the country, our winter has been quite moderate — no heavy snows, no days of sub-zero temperatures, no ice storms.
Yet 10 days of northeast arctic winds have begun to take a toll: my face and hands are reddened just as if I’ve been in the sun too long.

Whether we are consumed by flames or frozen, resulting in ashes or ice — how it will feel is the same.

Yet ashes remain ashes, only and forever after, mere dust.
If, encased in ice, a thaw may restore,
then frozen memory sears like sculpture
meant to melt, ceasing to imprison.




Beyond Me

pear bark
core of a tulip by Josh Scholten
core of a tulip by Josh Scholten

So strange, life is. 
Why people do not go around
in a continual state of surprise
is beyond me.
~William Maxwell

If I stop and really look at something I usually pass by with only a cursory glance, I am astonished at what I didn’t see before.
Inside and up close is an unfamiliar richness and strangeness, as if of a foreign world, that I might miss altogether if I didn’t find the time to be surprised by life.

It is beyond me how much is beyond me.
It is all beyond me.

pink dogwood at sunset
campfire by Josh Scholten
campfire by Josh Scholten



Unruffled Calm

photo by Josh Scholten

Surely there is something in the unruffled calm of nature that overawes our little anxieties and doubts: the sight of the deep-blue sky, and the clustering stars above seem to impart a quiet to the mind.
Jonathan Edwards

During times like the last couple weeks,  nature has certainly been less than calm (wildfires, windstorms, drought, overbearing heat, flooding).  Anxiety and worry seems an appropriate response in the face of such tragedy.

We have been spared in our part of the world, dealing only with unseasonably cool and wet weather, disrupting the growing season and hay harvest.  Our anxieties, ever present nevertheless,  are quite little compared to those elsewhere who have lost family members, their homes and all their belongings.

Even with that point of view, anxiety and doubt can take root like a weed in a garden patch– overwhelming, crowding out and impairing plants trying to be fruitful.  The result is nothing of value grows–only unchecked proliferation of more weeds.

I need reminding to keep my anxiousness winnowed out.  I don’t need a large scale natural disaster as impetus.  I simply need to look up at the sky to know: I am not God and never will be.  My worry helps no one, changes nothing,  only hinders me from being fruitful.

Reaching for the unruffled calm overawes, imparting quiet to the mind, taking a deep breath and knowing He is in control.