A Sense of Sadness

Then summer fades and passes
and October comes and goes.
We’ll smell smoke then,
and feel an unexpected sharpness,
a thrill of nervousness,
swift elation,
a sense of sadness and departure.
~ Thomas Wolfe

November begins bittersweet, heralding the inevitable slow down to winter stillness.

The garden is put to bed, lawnmowers put away, pruning shears not yet readied for the work of refinement and shaping.

The air sparkles, sharp-edged in the lungs.

I am never ready for this crush of dark hours descending so quickly. Yet it comes with the promise of the light to come.

And so we wait on the known and patiently ponder the unknown.

An Advent Paradox: Hands Too Small

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A mass of legend and literature, which increases and will never end, has repeated and rung the changes on that single paradox:

that the hands that had made the sun and stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle.

Upon this paradox, we might almost say upon this jest, all the literature of our faith is founded…

I mean that all the eyes of wonder and worship which had been turned outwards to the largest thing were now turned inward to the smallest…

It is true that the spiritual spiral henceforward works inwards instead of outwards, and in that sense is centripetal and not centrifugal.

The faith becomes, in more ways than one, a religion of little things.

– G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

 

 

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As the universe expands around us,  our faith, in response, spirals inward.
The Hands that flung the stars and planets into their places now reach inside us to grip and hold our hearts.

It’s the little things that feed our faith:
there are so many to remember during this month of waiting.

And it begins with the paradox of small Hands.

 

 

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Building the Universe

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On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God –
a worthy pastime.

Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside
this way and that way.

How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.

Let us hope
it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.

~Mary Oliver “Song of the Builders”

 

I should watch more than build,
think more about God and how He is building me
than try to change His universe.
Like the sunrise this morning
with its line of demarcation
between what is lit and what is not yet,
I’m a work in progress,
waiting to be fully in the Son.

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Stalk the Gaps

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The gaps are the thing.
The gaps are the spirit’s one home,
the altitudes and latitudes so dazzlingly spare and clean
that the spirit can discover itself like a once-blind man unbound.
The gaps are the clefts in the rock where you cower to see the back parts of God;
they are fissures between mountains and cells the wind lances through,
the icy narrowing fiords splitting the cliffs of mystery.
Go up into the gaps.
If you can find them;
they shift and vanish too.
Stalk the gaps.
Squeak into a gap in the soil,
turn, and unlock
—more than a maple—
a universe.
~Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

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Blond Moon

photo by Josh Scholten

“Many solemn nights
Blond moon, we stand and marvel…
Sleeping our noons away”
― Teitoku (Japanese Haiku)
May I never lose my wonder at the universe suspended above my head, whether it is vast galaxies spreading like a canopy, a golden blond moon or photos beamed back from the surface of Mars from the rover Curiosity.

May I marvel at what is beyond my capacity to understand and my capability to see with my own eyes.

May I never snooze oblivious, unaware of the privilege that is being here, if only a little while.