The Unquiet Spirit of a Flower



inchworm hitching a ride on a dandelion seed


Tis May; and yet the March flower Dandelion
Is still in bloom among the emerald grass,
Shining like guineas with the sun’s warm eye on–
We almost think they are gold as we pass,
Or fallen stars in a green sea of grass.
They shine in fields, or waste grounds near the town.
They closed like painter’s brush when even was.
At length they turn to nothing else but down,
While the rude winds blow off each shadowy crown.
~John Clare






In the meadow-grass
The innocent white daisies blow,
The dandelion plume doth pass
Vaguely to and fro, –
The unquiet spirit of a flower

That hath too brief an hour.
~Ellen Mackay Hutchinson Cortissoz





All people are like grass,
    and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
     but the word of the Lord endures forever.
And this is the word that was preached to you.

1Peter 1:24-25





Like a seed released when buffeted,
or simply blown aloft at the moment of ripeness,
may we be the unquiet flower spirit
carrying your Word on fragile wings
to far corners and hidden places;
settling softly, taking root
wherever your breath takes us.





Awaiting His Arrival: From Tainted to Awed


What then shall we say to these things?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all,
how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8 excerpts


It’s when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother,
the Word.
~Denise Levertov “On the Mystery of the Incarnation”



The Winged Keys



The set seed and the first bulbs showing.
The silence that brings the deer.

The trees are full of handles and hinges;
you can make out keyholes, latches in the leaves.

Buds tick and crack in the sun, break open
slowly in a spur of green.


The small-change colours of the river bed:
these stones of copper, silver, gold.

The rock-rose in the waste-ground
finding some way to bloom. The long

spill of birdsong. Flowers, all
turned to face the hot sky. Nothing stirs.


That woody clack of antlers.
In yellow and red, the many griefs of autumn.

The dawn light through amber leaves
and the trees are lanterned, blown

the next day to empty stars.
Smoke in the air; the air, turning.


Under a sky of stone and pink
faring in from the north and promising snow:

the blackbird.
In his beak, a victory of worms.

The winged seed of the maple,
the lost keys under the ash.
~Robin Robertson “Finding the Keys”


If only there were verbal keys as plentiful
as those that twirl from the maple branch,
words freed, ready to unlatch life’s secrets
and push ajar the doors of heavy hearts.

May we open just enough
to listen,
unlock horns,
and receive what falls
into our empty arms.




The Air Sighs


When, in the cavern darkness, the child
first opened his mouth (even before
his eyes widened to see the supple world
his lungs had breathed into being),
could he have known that breathing
trumps seeing? Did he love the way air sighs
as it brushes in and out through flesh
to sustain the tiny heart’s iambic beating,
tramping the crossroads of the brain
like donkey tracks, the blood dazzling and
invisible, the corpuscles skittering to the earlobes
and toenails? Did he have any idea it
would take all his breath to speak in stories
that would change the world?
~Luci Shaw “Breath”
Breath that created the world
by forming the Words
that tell the stories
that change the world.
We rest in that breath today,
sighing in Sabbath.


A Canticle for Advent: Word Made Flesh and Blood

Helix Nebulae
Helix Nebulae

1. Ye nations all, on you I call, come, hear this declaration.
   And don't refuse this glorious news of Jesus and salvation.
   To royal Jews came first the news of Christ the great Messiah,
   As was foretold by prophets old, Isaiah, Jeremiah.

2. To Abraham the promise came, and to his seed for ever,
   A light to shine in Isaac's line, by scripture we discover;
   Hail, promised morn! the Savior's born, the glorious Mediator--
   God's blessed Word made flesh and blood, assumed the human nature.

3. His parents poor in earthly store, to entertain the stranger
   They found no bed to lay his head, but in the ox's manger:
   No royal things, as used by kings, were seen by those that found him,
   But in the hay the stranger lay, with swaddling bands around him.

4. On the same night a glorious light to shepherds there appeared,
   Bright angels said, "Be not afraid, although we much alarm you,
   The angels said, "Be not afraid, although we much alarm you,
   We do appear good news to bear, as now we will inform you.

5. "The city's name is Bethlehem, in which God hath appointed,
   This glorious morn a Savior's born, for him God hath anointed;
   By this you'll know, if you will go, to see this little stranger,
   His lovely charms in Mary's arms, both lying in a manger."

6. When this was said, straightway was made a glorious sound from heaven
   Each flaming tongue an anthem sung, "To men a Savior's given,
   In Jesus' name, the glorious theme, we elevate our voices,
   At Jesus' birth be peace on earth, meanwhile all heaven rejoices."

7. Then with delight they took their flight, and winged their way to glory,
   The shepherds gazed and were amazed, to hear the pleasing story;
   To Bethlehem they quickly came, the glorious news to carry,
   And in the stall they found them all, Joseph, the Babe, and Mary.

8. The shepherds then returned again to their own habitation,
   With joy of heart they did depart, now they have found salvation.
   Glory, they cry, to God on high, who sent his Son to save us
   This glorious morn the Savior's born, his name it is Christ Jesus.
~William Walker 1835

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcomeit.
John 1:1-5

Something Happened

photo by Josh Scholten

“There was only the dark infinity in which nothing was. And something happened. At the distance of a star something happened, and everything began. The Word did not come into being, but it was. It did not break upon the silence, but it was older than the silence and the silence was made of it.” N. Scott Momaday in “House Made of Dawn”

Traveling today through the open spaces of Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota, I am aware of a spiritual essence rising from the vistas extending as far as the eye can see.  The Plains Peoples,  from which my Stanford professor Scott Momaday came, intimately understood the infinity of creation.  They were born, lived and loved, hunted and died beneath the silent stars.

Something happened.

Something happened, lighting the darkness and overcoming nothingness.

Something happened and the story of the Beginning breathes within us.

Something happened when God’s silence spoke.

His Word was, and always was, and always will be.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1