Amen

Here is a memory
I shall keep for you
all of my days:

when we ask
Where is your turkey?
you pat the colorful creature
adorning your shirt
while attempting to say
gobble gobble

and when our family
gathers round the table
to pray

amid the reverent cadence
of your Grampa’s words
I hear you say

nen

nen

nen

—I shall keep it for you,
this memory:
Thanksgiving gold
your one-year-old
baby voice
blessing us all

Amen

Stargazing

The Boy and I
are stargazing
with our SkyView
phone apps

reading names:

Dabih

Mirzam

Capella

Aldebaran

Taygeta

Elnath

Tien Kwan

Betelgeuse

Fomalhaut

Altair

Vega

Deneb

the Pleiades

makes me remember
that God knows all the stars
and calls them by name
I tell The Boy.

His face is turned up
toward the glittering heavens

after a long moment
he speaks:

I wonder what names
they are
.

—Me, too, Boy.

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. – Psalm 147:4

Planets

The Boy and I
walking under
the evening sky:
he notes the bright, bright star
glittering high

not a star, say I
that’s Jupiter

and that’s Saturn,
right over there

I take out my phone
open an app
hold it to the sky
aim at these ‘stars’

up pop the planets
on the fly

—oh, the awe
in The Boy’s eyes—

he shows me his watch
I didn’t know
he’d set its face
to the solar system
planets positioned in orbits
line by line:

I know where they are
but I didn’t know I
could actually see them
in the sky

—what app is that??

SkyView, say I

in an instant
The Boy has downloaded it
and is turning every which way
phone pointed
at the night sky

Mars is right there
by the streetlight! he cries

I LOVE this,
says he,
by and by

I watch him
with a sigh
remembering how
he first fell in love
with planets
around age five

The Boy’s solar system artwork, created for me about twenty years ago.
It remains taped to the back of my bedroom door.

Flightline

I was only halfway watching
when I heard the frenzied pitch
of announcers’ voices on TV

I looked, then, to see
the horse
that beautiful bay
breaking away from others
with unparalleled grace
with uncommon ease

—just like Secretariat!
cried the announcers

—oh, very much like him,
I thought, holding my breath
tears stinging my eyes
at a loss for any word
except glorious

crossing the finish line
the others far behind
undefeated Flightline
clearly is of
divine design

Flightline wins the Breeder’s Cup Classic by the largest margin in the history of the race

Spiritual Journey: Holy

Why is it that, as I began to think of a November theme for my Spiritual Journey writer-friends, that the word holy came to mind?

I suppose it was connected with the start of the holiday season…holiday, from the original Old English, hāligdæg, means holy day.

I am writing this on a holy day to many around the world, All Soul’s Day. Following All Saint’s Day. Following All Hallow’s Eve…a holy triduum for remembering the dead, collectively known as Allhallowtide. On Halloween morning I saw a mystical fiery rainbow in the clouds, a colorful band of light joining earth to heaven. Genesis 9:13 played in my mind: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. A promise from God. There’s also a rainbow around the throne of God (Revelation 4:3).

Holy. As in hallowed.

I think of votive candles lit in memory of deceased loved ones, the bright flames driving the dark away, the way that hope does in the despairing soul. So many holy-day observances involve the lighting of candles.

My little granddaughter had her first birthday at the end of October. A solitary candle burned on her cake, representing her one year of life.

Holy.

It also means blessed.

For me, holy is closely linked to my life-word, awe, in that they encompass the divine and a reverence for it. Even a shadowing of fear. When I was a small child attending church with my grandparents, I sensed all of this on entering the sanctuary, long before I had words to convey it. I did not know, then, about the ancient Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle where God’s presence dwelt, that only the High Priest could enter it once a year to make atonement for the Israelites, and that anyone else trying to do so would die. Even the High Priest had to prepare with great care.

Holy. It means sacred, consecrated, set apart.

The ancient Jews considered the Holy of Holies the spiritual junction of heaven and earth.

I looked at all the white-rail decor in that long-ago Methodist church and could not understand, describe, or convey…but I sensed holy and trembled.

My other granddaughter, age six, was baptized recently. I watched her, robed in white, descending into the baptismal pool where the preacher—her stepfather, my son—held out his hand to her. Her little face was aglow with the faith of a child (the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these), looking up at her dad with absolute trust. My son was overcome with emotion.

Holy. Pure.

My spirit clings to the word. Although it seems like life is often consumed by an ever-raging sea of unholiness, the holy is always there, like a luminous lifeline. It shines in faces of children. It swells in birdsong, in music so beautifully composed that it draws tears. It lives in extraordinary, self-sacrificial acts of love. It manifests itself in healing. In forgiveness. I see it often in nature, obeying its patterns, displaying such breathtaking glory and wonders that one forgets the brokenness of things. Yes, when the slant of light is just right, one gets a shot of awe, a glimpse above and beyond, a perceiving of holy. Of the presence of God. Like a fiery rainbow on Halloween morning.

In the end, it is all a matter of opening the soul to seeing.

Here’s to finding the holy in every day of the journey.

I wrote a poem about the rainbow on All Hallow’s Eve; people forget the Christian connections to the day.

Spiritual Journey Friends, please share your links in the comments below – blessings to you all!

Autumn glory

This morning
was glorious

the strange autumn slant of light
catching the red-gold-orange flames
of trees, reaching their limbs
up to a brooding gray sky
meeting still-green fields
at the horizon

such a study in color
that I, mere mortal observer,
lost myself in the awe
of indescribable beauty

I could have lived
a thousand years
and not lost my breath
as I did this morning

marveling
wondering
at how such a beautiful world
can be so broken

Autumn Landscape. blmiers2CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Spiritual Journey: Revenants

with thanks to Chris Margocs for hosting October’s Spiritual Journey Thursday. Chris invites our group to write about those who have passed and left something behind in our hearts, in preparation for the upcoming holidays of All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. She says: “As a person of Celtic heritage, the idea of the thinning of veil between here and the hereafter on these days intrigues me…”

—Me, too, Chris.

*******

The stirrings begin with the first breaths of cooler air.

As September gives way to October, while the trees and grass are still green, before any obvious turnings of yellow, orange, or fiery red, they appear.

I sense them most often at doorways. Portals.

There, on weatherworn sidewalks, a smattering of fragments from dead leaves surreptitiously dropped—I can never tell exactly from where—comes to life just as I approach. A soft rattling, a lifting, a sudden swirling… the upswept pieces begin dancing in a circle.

Fairies, I think.

And then I think, Children.

Small children delight in collecting such things, bits of leaves, tiny twigs, acorn caps, a butterfly’s bright-patterned wing, cicada shells. Nature’s cast-off scraps of life. In the hands of a child, they become treasures, magical objects, if only for a moment, in the mind of the child.

Watching the leaf-bits dancing in a circle, round and round and round again, I wonder if invisible children are at play. I almost want to linger long enough to hear them laughing…for there’s a stab of joy in it that I cannot explain, a piercing longing, a wild freedom…why should I perceive these things?

I wonder, then, about memories, so like the leaf fragments rising anew at the portals as I continue walking through the stations of my life, here to there, there to here…it is real, this revenant of my own childhood, the child that I was, holding onto the treasures that were given to me, reliving the precious bits that remain. As memories swirl round and round, I delight in them, in re-immersing for a moment in long-ago moments with people I loved, who loved me, who sheltered me, sustained me, prepared me…and who are gone but never far away. I see their faces before me, their eyes shining. I remember their stories. I hear their voices: I love you.

People die. Love does not.

Autumn comes with its fiery promises, its contrasts, its losses; trees will soon release their fragile organs in hopeful glory of surviving the winter. They shall sleep until spring, until the reawakening, life made new.

I walk on, remembering, wrapping gratitude round and round me like a hooded cloak, still sheltered, sustained, loved, awed by the beauty that deepens around me every passing year.

The stirrings begin with the first breath of cooler air.

Dancing revenants of what was, hinting at what is to be.

Perhaps they are whispering Allhallowtide.

Anole awe

Adaptability
is the key
to surviving
and savoring
your days
in the sun

Anolis carolinensis, green anole, Carolina anole: call it what you will, it is hanging out on the side of the house, basking in the October afternoon sun, feeling green…

…while its pal here, hanging out six inches away, momentarily eschews greenness for a more autumnal hue. Green anoles are sometimes called American chameleons.

They are also considered signs of good luck, prosperity, renewal, and healing, due to their ability to regenerate their tails.

The anole figures large in Celtic lore as a spiritual guide and a symbol of life, death, and rebirth.

You have to wonder, looking at their tiny, wise, ancient eyes…

*******
with thanks to E. Johnson for the photos