Breathing the Spirit of the Seasons

photo of Grandma Emma by Sara Larsen

With my arms raised in a vee,
I gather the heavens and bring
my hands down slow together,
press palms and bow my head.

I try to forget the suffering,
the wars, the ravage of land
that threatens songbirds,
butterflies, and pollinators.

The ghosts of their wings flutter
past my closed eyes as I breathe
the spirit of seasons, the stirrings
in soil, trees moving with sap.

With my third eye, I conjure
the red fox, its healthy tail, recount
the good of this world, the farmer
tending her tomatoes, the beans

dazzled green al dente in butter,
salt and pepper, cows munching
on grass. The orb of sun-gold
from which all bounty flows.
~Twyla M. Hansen “Trying to Pray” from
 Rock. Tree. Bird

There is much to pray about.
The list is endless and the need overwhelming.

Where even to begin?

It is for good reason we are advised by Paul to “pray without ceasing” (the word in Greek is adialeiptos or “uninterruptedly”) in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

It is not only when we audibly and in form,
address our petitions to the Deity that we pray.
We pray without ceasing.
Every secret wish is a prayer.
Every house is a church;
the corner of every street is a closet of devotion.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson in his sermon: Pray Without Ceasing

A farmer may have an addendum:
every barn is a church,
every moment kneeling and weeding the soil an act of devotion,
every moment of care-taking God’s creation an act of sacramental obedience.
Praying without ceasing in the course of one’s day.

Yet even before we clasp our hands together,
we are told to “Rejoice always.”
-Rejoice before complaining.
-Rejoice before requesting.
-Rejoice before losing heart.

Let me be breathing in the spirit of the seasons, overwhelmed by joy, before I talk with God. He knows which tears are which.

The Slowest Beauty

flamingobutterfly

birdofparadisebutterfly

As though I were nowhere around, the porcupine
              shuffles the edge of the road,
              in five minutes crosses
                            a distance I could have covered
                            in less than one

And disappears at last into cattails
              and rushes, sunset, a vespers
              of waterbirds, leaving me
                            still unwilling to move.

I am a sucker for scenes like this.
              The slowest beauty can rush me.
              And here I am,
                            all of my defenses down.
~Ingrid Wendt from “Porcupine at Dusk”

 

tropicalflower

butterfly1

A walk through enclosed tropical gardens
to witness the slow beauty of wading flamingos,
koi moving between their legs,
a lazy mist over exotic flowers,
butterflies testing their fragile wings.

I am overwhelmed,
my defenses down
over the rush of my life
outside this bubble.

Going back through the double doors,
re-entering the gray and cool of the northwest,
the bubble burst
and I’m released in a flutter of wings.

closeowleye

 

 

Summer Will Grow Old

thistle22

 

thistle5

This upstart thistle
Is young and touchy; it is
All barb and bristle,

Threatening to wield
Its green, jagged armament
Against the whole field.

Butterflies will dare
Nonetheless to lay their eggs
In that angle where

The leaf meets the stem,
So that ants or browsing cows
Cannot trouble them.

Summer will grow old
As will the thistle, letting
A clenched bloom unfold

To which the small hum
Of bee wings and the flash of
Goldfinch wings will come,

Till its purple crown
Blanches, and the breezes strew
The whole field with down.
~Richard Wilbur “A Pasture Poem”

butterflythistle

thistlebugs

webthistle