It was once in early May, a raw day, Bitter, on a western creek, I crouched Beneath a weeping willow, expecting Nothing, resting really, the black back Eddy smooth as glass when suddenly The rod tip bent with such great force I almost fell, but didn’t though I couldn’t move, it was that cramped Beneath the tree nor could I even raise My rod. I could only hold my breath, The reel singing, line spun out, Pulled by what I couldn’t see, but How I longed for just a glimpse, A glimpse would be enough, I thought, Until a glimmer showed itself, a flash Of light deep in the dark, and then, Of course I wanted more, the all of it To see and hold before releasing, Letting go. Like life, the way we’re meant To live, to let each breath be all there is, But seldom do; it isn’t easy. Perhaps I prayed, I can’t be sure, but Inch by inch, the fish drew near, until The moment, timeless, now, a rainbow Like a blessing rose, shimmering, A gift bestowed.
We say grace before we start to eat good things together, as if our thin voices could somehow divine it. We call it table grace, as if it were the elegance of furniture. We say a woman has it in the way she moves. We equate it with luck sometimes, modify it with sheer as if we could shave it to size.
Our gesture is not the real thing, we know that, that’s wholly Your deal. This is mere posture— or should we say sheer posture— a way to halt moving limbs, to cease together here, to allow a tilt toward gratitude
After so much darkness, the field’s excess of light, the day floating on itself as in a dream. But it isn’t a dream, the small wound songs of the house finch, the sun hammering the grasses’ bronze tips. We had gathered about your bed
like a boat we tried to push off stony ground. We wanted to help: we believed in the buoyancy of that water. You held onto the ruins instead of our hands. What did we know of how it is to look back at one’s life?
A bee swings from the nightshade. Ants carry their burden up the post of the shed unmoved by song.The grasses bend under the weight of so much light. And the balm of the wind: from the woods the singing of leaves. Or is it the sound of water flowing?
When he was in his early 40s, Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of a French fashion magazine, suffered a massive stroke which left him completely paralyzed except for the movement of one eye. By using this eye and a Morse code of sorts, he was able to dictate a memoir to a caring and patient scribe.
Here’s your Ash Wednesday story. A mother carries her tiny daughter With her as she gets ashed and the Girl, curious and wriggly, squirms Into the path of the priest’s thumb Just as the finger is about to arrive On the mother’s forehead, and the Ashes go right in the kid’s left eye. She starts to cry, and there’s a split Second as the priest and the mother Gawk, and then they both burst out Laughing. The kid is too little to be Offended, and the line moves along, But this stays with me; not the ashy Eye as much as the instant when all Could have been pain and awkward But instead it led to mutual giggling. We are born of dust and star-scatter And unto this we shall return, this is The Law, but meantime, by God, we Can laugh our asses off. What a gift, You know? Let us snicker while we Can, brothers and sisters. Let us use That which makes dark things quail.
Between 1990 and 2010, Iowa lost over 500 churches. The numbers reflect migration from rural to urban areas and the fewer number of people who identify with a faith community. The decline in churches is having a direct effect on the social fabric of the state. According to research at Iowa State University, nine out of ten rural people said they rely less on their neighbors than they once did. Surviving churches have gone back to older patterns to find leadership, engaging itinerant pastors or lay leaders. Some are surviving through cooperation with other denominations or with ethnic Christian groups (Pacific Standard, January 20).