Along the Beaver Creek, lobelia clings to the soil, foiling its every effort to sneak into the stream, which riffles over rocks below, aerating the water that fuels the wetland where a dragonfly squints its blue, bulbous eyes, spying mosquitoes mating, then steers its body to reach their next move. Do you dare, while traipsing this trail and glancing milkweed blossoms, to covet anything your neighbor may have?
Six months later, and a mile away, on a lime-dusted field, a singular tree, its leaves shorn and humming in wind somewhere south, waits. Winter will bear a crop of snow, which will deepen with the season and wrap around the stoic oak. No one will amble by for months. Driving by, will you sing your praise purely from the road’s safe distance?
In between, where there is so much time, when inspiration won’t spread its wings and raise its crimson head,
when nothing but mud dominates the wetland, when tarnished tin is the only color the sky can muster,
what then? Will you savor the age-old scent of the now-and-not-yet, sense its tension in the toppled tree, damp and fungus festooned,
My neighbor scrapes old paint from the fence around his pasture, an annual chore he attends to, for he knows the white he applies revives each slat. I think of his recent essay, peeling back the layers, as he said, of online education, revealing a barren base devoid of the body’s subtle gestures— how a screen cannot replicate confusion written on a brow, engagement flashing in the eyes, or a hand touching a shoulder. How a cursor cannot translate the voice’s inflections, nuanced as the nod of his head, greeting me, while he lays down his tool to rub my dog’s ears, while he motions toward the remaining wood, tells how he’ll finish the job before winter.
Sap Moon, Crust Moon, Crow Moon— by any of its names, this moon announces, in all its fullness, worms stirring in earth’s softening center; sap thawing in the maples; snow dissolving by day, crisping by night; & calls of crows converting from haunting ballads to heralding hymns. A robin reappears, throwing off the pine cloak it hid behind all winter like a god hard to find, hard to hear, maybe hard of hearing in the ruckus wind made as it bayed across the plains & yowled in the valleys, hard to see in ice suffocating once-tasseled fields, pinecone & bayberry, numbing perhaps even wings, rendering the soft touch this moon offers almost senseless. Welcome, worms, twisting & teeming with prophecy, welcome, crows & robins, plucking these crawlers from grass now breathing green, welcome, syrup, born again, pushing through the spout, welcome, waxing light & waning dark, welcome one, welcome all, no matter your longing for answered prayer, come, sun yourself beneath the low Lenten Moon.
First there was the twitch of the olive leaf lipping its stem, then the sigh of silt, settling, and the surrender of crickets, their legs, like fans, folding, when the trill of a brook, intoxicating, irresistible, like the grace of his Lord, carried him away that evening— no chariot for Enoch at the age of 365 who walked with God and simply like the last day in a year was no more.
Support the Christian Century
The Century's work relies primarily on subscriptions and donations. Thank you for supporting nonprofit journalism.