Monday, October 24, 2011


This morning I again settled in with a cup of tea on the front porch to watch the rain and let my mind focus on God.  Mist, like soft organza, inched its way up from between the jagged hills to return to the solid white sky, where drizzle originated unseen.

The blue spruce next to me seemed to be a stop-over for all the birds that call my home, their home.  A flock of white-throated sparrows hopped in the branches for awhile, then moved on.  Several cardinals, among other species, passed through, too.  But one lone mockingbird remained, dominating the air waves with a strange, singular screech.  Maybe this was one of a pair of mockingbirds that nested in the tree in spring, so close to the edge you could see them from the porch swing bringing in nesting materials.  By early June they were prematurely gone, no eggs no nestlings or at least none that survived.  A mystery.
During this time of contemplation, I've been reading through a book called, The Still Point, which has short, weekly readings for meditation - an opening prayer, several scriptures, excerpts from books, some poetry and a closing prayer.  The authors range from contemporary to 18th and 19th century, all the way back to the desert mothers and fathers and the "saints of old."  I'm finding it a lovely way to start my day.

One of the scriptures for this week was Psalm 84, whose writer also notices the birds at the Temple and writes about them, saying how blessed they are to live and sing in God's house.  That is how I felt this morning - blessed beyond measure to be in this temple of Creation, listening to the birds, the rain, the drip of water into the watering can under a leak in the porch roof.  Feeling also a little bit like that lone Mockingbird, calling out to the others to just be still, stop moving, stop striving, abide. Sometimes it can be a lonely calling.  But the Psalmist also writes:

 "I would rather be a doorkeeper in your courts,
than to take my fate upon myself" 

And I think about how long it took me to get here - how long, and how many prayers it takes to get to contentment.  To finally see the forest for the trees.  As I rose out of the chair to warm my tea up, a phrase popped into my head out of nowhere.  This is often how God speaks to me and the deep thought for today was this:

"There are no answered prayers...there are only unfoldings."

I heartily agreed, thinking about my own journey and how answers to the big questions were often only there in retrospect. How when we cried out for one thing or struggled with God over another, God was at work, changing us, so that looking back we can see how the life we needed to grow, transform and heal, unfolded. That was true for me on this particular morning at least, as I thought about a hope realized, my eyes filling with mist and my heart filling with gratitude. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I'm a day behind, due to technically slow difficulties using dial-up, but it gives me the time to reflect on the whole day before I post. Tuesday was a day of both relaxation and work.  Sunday, I decided on a schedule to keep each day, so that there is some time "scheduled" for quiet contemplation, some for productivity and some for creativity.  Tuesday's work revealed my age and lack of any real physical work in my life.  I cleared the trail for the upcoming retreat of hanging branches and fallen logs, stacking brush piles up along the way for wildlife refuges (refugia).  All that reaching and lopping and bending and hauling...left me a bit sore by evening.  But it is good work, and does a body good.

What I noticed while up on the prairie ridge section was a wonderful population of black, shingle and white oak saplings coming up.  Many of the saplings were so short, while their leaves were huge, often longer than the trunk, which I found amusing.  I'll be dead before any of them reach the size of the neighbor's mother trees that tossed their acorns over the fence for squirrels to unwittingly plant. But it does my heart good to know they will be there long after I am gone for someone else, and the wildlife, to enjoy.

After work, I wrote a poem from my morning meditation on the porch, as I listened to the birds and drank Lemon Zinger tea.  It's a poem I will probably continue to work on...but that may take a I'll share it with you in this form.  Let me know what you think.  Enjoy your day. 

October Morning

The Eastern Towhee sings his 2-syllable chirp
in the blue spruce next to me on the deck,
the sleepy, gray dawn slowly brightens, then
suddenly sparks, igniting quiet into cacophonies

I hear each bird’s rhythm – 4 caws from the crow
5 quick buzzes from the titmouse, never ending
screeches from a blue jay, 2 electric songs from
bluebirds perched on a wire, 1 toy-squeak
from a flicker – calling to the world, each other,
to God, that their life matters

Would that we should wake up each morning and
scream for hours from our porches - who we are,
our intentions, the names of our loved ones and
ours, if God re-named us, like the Sons of Thunder

At almost 8:30 the measured calls start to wane
Sounds of the human day begin–a chained dog barks,
cars chase each down their appointed routes,
in the distance there is the growl of machinery

I’ll come back at 4:30 when the day’s chores
Are behind me to listen  again to their
chattering in the trees, as they store up seeds
at the feeder for the long, chilly night ahead

Their voice, my voice, your voice fills the world

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Monday began my week-long fall sabbatical for the year.  I try to take an extended time of solitude at Prairie Pond Woods at least twice a year in the spring and fall. I do it for two reasons; one, so that I can de-stress, write, enjoy nature, commune with God and find my heart’s desire again (like Dorothy’s journey to Oz).  The second reason is to encourage others to do the same.  I’m convinced people need, and deep down want, time to be alone, to ask themselves the genuinely important questions and to soak in the inspiration from the wonder and beauty of nature.  Our society just simply doesn’t honor these endeavors.  Not flashy enough!  Too self-indulgent!  Too scary, maybe?  

There are only a handful of people in my circle of friends and acquaintances that I know of who take intentional time away from their lives…not to go on vacation (which is also important)…but to go somewhere lovely (or a hotel if that’s all you got) to focus on their inner life and listen to what God might be quietly saying within the sound of silence. 
So, for inspiration, this week I’ll be posting my sabbatical experiences.  I realize most people can’t take an entire week off of work or running a household to do this.  But I’m equally convinced most folks could take a weekend or a day, if we value and plan for it.  At the end of this week, Heart By Nature is facilitating a retreat on how to simplify life, clarify values we hold in our hearts and plan a year (literally on a calendar!) that will yield the most fruit and peace.  I call it a “Personal Phenology,” phenology being the study of what happens, where and when in the natural world.  It is a principle that can be applied to our own goals, rhythms and circumstances.

I hope you will visit here during the week to catch a vision for what one can experience when there is no TV, high-speed internet, phone calls, obligations or people (even the little ones you love so much) talking at you all day. Perhaps sharing thoughts that came while walking The Refresher Course, or insights from a half-hour of listening prayer or photos from the 27-acres here at Prairie Pond Woods will encourage you to approach the new year differently…with more intention and more time spent living the call of God in your life.