The art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.
~Henry Havelock Ellis
…God’s not nonexistent;
He’s just been waylaid
by a host of what no one could’ve foreseen.
He’s got plans for you…
…it’s true that my Virginia creeper praises Him,
its palms and fingers crimson with applause,
that the local breeze is weaving Him a diadem…
~Jacqueline Osherow from “Autumn Psalm”
With what stoic delicacy does
Virginia creeper let go:
the feeblest tug brings down
a sheaf of leaves kite-high,
as if to say,
To live is good
but not to live—to be pulled down
with scarce a ripping sound,
still flourishing, still
stretching toward the sun—
is good also, all photosynthesis
abandoned, quite quits. Next spring
the hairy rootlets left unpulled
snake out a leafy afterlife
up that same smooth-barked oak.
~John Updike “Creeper”
The Virginia Creeper vine, its crimson leaves
crawl over the brow of our ancient shed
like a lock of unruly hair or a flowing stream.
This humble building was a small chapel a century ago,
moved from the intersection of two country roads to this raised knoll
for forever sanctuary.
It is befitting that every fall this former church,
now empty of sermons and hymns,
Each winter the stripped bare vine
clings tightly through thousands of “holdfast” suckers.
The glue keeps the vine attached
where no vine has gone before.
Once there, it stays until pulled away;
it becomes an invincible foundation
to build upon in the spring.
Do not despair in this austere winter.
The Lord has plans and will not be moved
or ripped away,
even when His name is removed
from schools or public squares,
He’s holding on, waiting on us,
waiting for the spring
and won’t ever, no never, let go.