Invocation

 

Oh make me honest as a fishing village

In the full sun-glare on a northern Coast.

As honest as a hill above bare tillage

When leaves are down and cliffs and scars show most.

–Abby Huston Evans

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Miracles

 

Each drop of water

every falling leaf

constitutes a miracle.

Autumn days in New England bring cerulean blue skies splashed against red and orange leaves to form a patchwork of color blurred through the scented veil of woodsmoke.

Leafy stripes and plaids wrap hills and valleys in autumn’s brilliant fabric and seem to dye the landscape with impossible tints of vermillion and ochre and citron.

This one last flash of glory serves to deny the imminence of winter’s silvered grey. Exploding from a late summer start, autumn’s energetic colors sprint toward their seasonal finish line. Once there, they bring to us an awareness–kept at bay by spring’s potential and summer’s abundance—that all life will end. Red and orange will turn to brown. Cerulean blue will turn to silver. Sunshine slants thin and low in the sky.

Alone among life, human beings know that we will die. We are gifted with the capacity to understand the cyclical nature of earthly life. We see our children born and our parents die. We know that night follows day and that old age is the inevitable outcome of youth. This gift, this knowledge that life is fleeting, calls us to attend to each moment. Yet, careworn and human, we take for granted what should serve to energize and inspire. We ignore moments that call us to anoint and to rejoice.

How then, should we live our one holy and mysterious life? Is living and having to die a siren call for our attention or an invitation to stupor?

In times past, a people living in closer proximity to nature saw the world as a sacred place. Spirit lived everywhere and enlivened everything. The veil between this world and the next was thin. Leading people to a belief in signs and portents, as well as to a loving reverence for all of life, the ancient sacramental universe carried the taint of superstition by the time of the Enlightenment. Post Enlightenment, the universe was explained in ways concrete and rational. Scientific principles removed any hint of life’s holy mystery.

Still, seeing the mystery in each moment is easy once you decide to look. Who can explain kindness or love or bravery? Consider the nettle, the muskrat, the garden slug. Each contains the same holy and miraculous life. Awakening instills in our souls a deep reverence, and an even deeper gratitude, for life.

Awareness of life’s fragility, when combined with awakening to the sacred, brings us the gift of a life lived “all in”. We come to know ourselves as part of a finely woven fabric of living that urges us to hold nothing back. Releasing over-thinking and fear, we can embrace lives full of sacred experiences–lives plumbed deeply for their holy miracles.

Frozen Windowpane

Frozen windowpane
Snow, sleet, ice.
A fly suns herself.

We have just come through 36 hours of a serious nor’easter here on Vinalhaven. And although the wind is calm and the sun shines thinly through the clouds today, we still have no internet or telephone and only intermittent power. In an instant autumn became winter.
When I went to sleep Saturday night, a light rain and a gusty wind made the two large maples in front of my house swoosh and sway. The maples were still full of beautiful leaves–like full heads of hair–in shades of red, orange and yellow.
By Sunday morning it was a white world. The maples were going bald. Snow fell sideways, mixed with sleet, and wind howled and moaned through the trees and around the chimney. It was hard to hear yourself talk, even inside the house. Outside, it was deafening. When the lights went out midday, I climbed upstairs to bed, cuddling with my cat, under the down quilt, trying to stay warm. I was only moderately successful, but Penney slept soundly.
With power and communication now restored, I feel a little disoriented–melancholy, although the sun is shining brightly. Being less insulated from the natural world was, in its way, nurturing. I think I miss the howling wind and freezing sleet. I know that I miss the time I spent apart from the world’s demands. The isolation and the quiet worked to heal, and to nurture my weary spirit.