Tangled Threads



Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs-

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.
~Rainer Maria Rilke “Sunset”


We stand, wavering, on the cusp of light and shadow~
struggling to untangle our feet of clay from the earth
to avoid sinking like a stone, mired and stuck.
As darkness begins to claim our days again,
we seek to rise like a star illuminating the long night,
brushing eternity with our branches.





Lonely Light


barnyardlightour first snowfall of the season just started

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.
~Ted Kooser “Flying at Night”



Strange Sweet Sorrow


The passing of the summer fills again
my heart with strange sweet sorrow, and I find
the very moments precious in my palm.
Each dawn I did not see, each night the stars
in spangled pattern shone, unknown to me,
are counted out against me by my God,
who charges me to see all lovely things…
~Jane Tyson Clement from “Autumn”

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten


Journey Work of the Stars


I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.
~Walt Whitman

All photos were taken this week while walking past Western Washington University garden plots on my way to and from meetings on campus.   My routine tasks, my everyday journeyman duties, are rendered extraordinary in the light of petals, pollen, webs, pigment, fruit, seed pods and always, always the nurture of soil and rain.   I chanced upon a gardener yesterday and told him the difference his work makes in my day.  The rich visual and tactile variety in the gardens is like star-lit nebulae and galaxies scattered about in planter pots and plots.

He looked up, startled, so used to not being noticed,  and simply said, “it’s been a good year for the plants.”

Indeed it is.  A good year for us all.









The Permanence of Light

photo by Nate Gibson
photo by Nate Gibson

….a lesson about the permanence of light, finding its path when every course would seem blocked, and when even its source has long faded… 

An older woman comes upon a child looking at the stars. She tells him that it’s taken eons for the light to come this far. The boy asks if you can tell which stars are dead and which are living.

“No,” she answers, “it’s impossible. Still, what a beautiful mystery that is.”
~A. J. Harmon from “Good Letters” on patheos.com

photo by Nate Gibson
photo by Nate Gibson

The stars come up spinning
every night, bewildered in love.
They’d grow tired
with that revolving, if they weren’t.
They’d say,

“How long do we have to do this?”


Hammered Dome


photo of the Nooksack Cirque by Josh Scholten
photo of the Nooksack Cirque by Josh Scholten
photo of the ice melt, the origins of the Nooksack River at the Nooksack Cirque by Josh Scholten
photo of the ice melt, the origins of the Nooksack River at the Nooksack Cirque by Josh Scholten

At the foot of the cirque,
where the ice of ages melts down into
the forked river called Nooksack, we are held
in the palm of a great hand.  Through the tent flap
the stars overhead radiate from
the “hammered dome,” what the ancients
called the firmament, but so pliant we want
to finger it, to pull it on, dusky, like a cap
against frost.
~Luci Shaw from “Singing Bowl”

the "hammered dome" by Josh Scholten
the “hammered dome” by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten


The Scent of Work

Fireflies are daughters to the stars
And go in the countryside to catch the scent of hay
Which is the scent of God
Because it smells of work–Giovanni Cerri

Our horses are now officially pulled off the pastures for winter, relegated to smaller dirt paddocks until the fields have rested, recovered and dried sufficiently in April to bear their hooves and teeth again.

So I climb the ladder to the hay loft daily to toss down carefully stacked bales of hay placed there by our hay crew four months ago.   I release the dried stems from their bondage by twine.  The scent of July work hits me full force; I’m transported back to the sweaty days of hay mowing, tedding, raking and baling.   It was just yesterday, so it seems, that my children and their friends were picking up these heavy bales and tossing them onto the trailer, and then bringing them into the barn.

The scent of work on the earth, like fireflies to the stars, is the perfume of heaven.