God gives every bird his worm, but He does not throw it into the nest. ~Swedish Proverb
You wake wanting the dream you left behind in sleep, water washing through everything, clearing away sediment of years, uncovering the lost and forgotten. You hear the sun breaking on cold grass, on eaves, on stone steps outside. You see light igniting sparks of dust in the air. You feel for the first time in years the world electrified with morning.
You know something has changed in the night, something you thought gone from the world has come back: shooting stars in the pasture, sleeping beneath a field of daisies, wisteria climbing over fences, houses, trees.
This is a place that smells like childhood and old age. It is a limb you swung from, a field you go back to. It is a part of whatever you do. ~Scott Owen “Arrival of the Past”
The beginning of summer brings back early childhood memories of waking early in the morning with no plans for the day other than just showing up.
As a kid, I was never bored with so many open-ended hours before me; the air felt electric with potential adventures, whether it was building a tree fort, bushwhacking a new trail in the woods, searching out killdeer nests in the field, catching butterflies, or watching a salamander sunning itself for hours. The possibilities felt infinite and I was free as a bird to go looking for what the day had to offer.
By the time I was ten, I began to work to earn money to make my dream (owning my own horse) come true – picking berries, weeding gardens, babysitting neighbor kids. The work routine started early as dreams don’t happen without striving for them.
Now for the first time in 55 years, I awake knowing life has changed in the night: I don’t have a schedule and don’t need to show up to a job. The long summer days I thought were gone and forgotten have been here all along, just now uncovered again.
I can go back to those days of electrifying potential open-ended hours, just to simply show up to the moments before me.
Sunrise is an event that calls forth solemn music in the very depths of our nature, as if one’s whole being had to attune itself to the cosmos and praise God for the new day, praise him in the name of all the creatures that ever were or ever will be.
I look at the rising sun and feel that now upon me falls the responsibility of seeing what all my ancestors have seen, in the Stone Age and even before it, praising God before me. Whether or not they praised him then, for themselves, they must praise him now in me. When the sun rises each one of us is summoned by the living and the dead to praise God. ~Thomas Merton from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
I’m well aware not everyone greets the morning with praise; dawn signals the start of a new day of painful relationships, back-breaking work, and unending discouragement. I know people who keep themselves up until 3 AM just so they can sleep through the sunrise and somehow find a way to start their day at noon after all hint of morning has passed.
Instead I’m one of those barely tolerable “morning” persons, waking up without an alarm, ready to rise, a song in my heart and a smile on my lips. The gift of a new day and another try at life is a source of great joy and inspiration to me.
God keeps bringing the sun back to us, day in and day out. We, His creatures, are given yet another chance.
I see buds so subtle they know, though fat, that this is no time to bloom. ~John Updike from “December, Outdoors”
Yesterday, our farm trees and bushes filled with buds of ice reflecting a bright and crisp Christmas sunlight. It was a crystalline wonderland celebrating the subtle beauty of winter.
Yet even today at the local grocery store garden centers, there will no longer be buyers for “winter” products — overnight, Christmas completely disappears except for the “remainder” and “two-for-one” tables. Unsold poinsettias and fresh evergreen wreaths are hauled away along with the oddly shaped and drying Christmas trees to make way for containers of unbearably cheerful primroses and early forced narcissus and hyacinth plants. Barely a week into winter, Valentine’s Day and spring will be right in our faces as we wheel past with the grocery cart, a seductive lure to effectively skip a whole season of restorative watch-and-wait. Color and fragrance and lush blooms are handed to us without even taking a breather.
Dormant plants and hibernating animals have the right idea this time of year: “already, but not yet.” Rather than slogging daily through the burden of mud, skittering precariously across icy fields or reaching up out of snow drifts, they quietly rest up. Well fed and pregnant with potential, they are alive and well beneath a facade of sleep. Come out too early and risk starvation and frostbite.
So it’s not yet time to bloom — being a subtle bud is exactly what is needed. Out-of-season blossoms need not apply.
We swell with potential to dream dreams of a glorious growth to come.
It came home with me over a month ago,
a non-descript bulb with a green sword-blade shoot
emerging shyly from the top.
Its care and feeding
was a lot of “watch and wait”
and just a little water.
It was our December morning entertainment
as we munched down cereal,
gauging how many centimeters
it rose over night.
It took over the dining table~
two tall stalks topped with tight-fisted buds
which opened oh-so-slowly over several days
like a drowsy student on Christmas break,
not yet ready to meet and greet the world
but once the commitment to wake is made,
there is no other blossoming quite like it anywhere.
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
~Galway Kinnell “Saint Francis and the Sow”
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
I know this longing as I know my own back yard~
waiting for a view of the mountain from my kitchen window
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.
The beauty of anticipation,
confident of fulfillment to come
to be slaked
my hunger to be