Turn Aside and Look: An Apparition of Petals




All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
But the word of the Lord endures forever.
1Peter 1:24-25


The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
~Ezra Pound “In a Station of the Metro”



During our visit here in Japan, particularly at the train stations, we are met by a sea of faces — each man, woman and child with a place to go to work or school, a place to return home to, a bed to rest upon. It can be overwhelming to think of the millions who pass through the same place in a day and to wonder at how each person, each hair on their head, is cared for and counted by God.

Yet, like the transience of flowers, we are mortal, each of us, except in our clinging like petals to a wet bough –the word of the Lord, our Creator. Only then we become more than apparition.  We bloom where we are planted.




Woman Admiring Plum Blossoms at Night, Suzuki Harunobu, 18th century
(the print that inspired Ezra Pound’s poem)


All Flesh

All flesh is grass.
Isaiah 40:6
photo by Josh Scholten

The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome,
indescribably magnificent world in itself.
– Henry Miller

With the light and warmth waning with autumn’s approach, we have likely mowed for the last time this season. The explosion of green in May has become the browning crisp of September. Our work may be on hiatus, but the grasses only appear to be resting.

Growth has gone to seed. The seed itself is gone as well: blowing in a gusty breeze, or attaching to a passing tuft of fur to ride to another destination, or traversing a bird’s digestive tract to eventually land at the base of a fence post, or simply landing into nurturing soil at the feet of the mother plant. There it is invited home once again.

The season of grasses, though unbearably short, is nevertheless perpetual. Half of the year nothing appears to be happening. Still its growth continues, invisible to the eye, all nuance and planned potential. Even as the plant dies back, it persists within the ever renewing and buried seed,  guaranteed a new life and purpose in another place and season.

Surely I too am grass, withering with seed falling.  Though gone with the wind, blown by the breath of God,  within that seed, His word endures forever.

And as to me, I know nothing else but miracles…
~ Walt Whitman in Leaves of Grass

photo by Josh Scholten