Lawn Tall Bean

There is a bean to be seen
growing in the middle of our lawn,
there by grace of a chipmunk who squirreled
away a pod found in the ground of my garden;
my three sisters garden.

This bean would not be save for
the drought that stopped my lawn mowing,
without which it would have been a has bean.

I’m contemplating what kind of a bean pole
might serve as a lean-to for this lawn tall bean.
Maybe a stick that it can stick to while it rises
in our yard, or maybe a rod, stuck in the sod,
iron graced with the green of bean.

I’m watching this plant with bated breath
as Creator works wonders despite,
or rather because of,
Chip’s plunders.

All Across Turtle Island

A year ago I was in Shillong, India, teaching some marvelous students, seeing some remarkable sight, and learning so very much. This year I’m not in Shillong, but warmed by memories of my time there. My not being there, however, doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing the aforementioned activities. It seems that life is rich and sure to bless as we open our eyes. Of course, I know that people go through unbearably difficult days, days that deserve lament. This, too, is a part of life but hopefully not the whole of it.

Some days are gift. Yesterday was such a day. I made my way to the Conestoga Pow Wow held at the Conestoga College complex. I go most years, although I missed last year because I was away. When I entered I was told I could go left or right, which was a bit disorienting because in the past there was only one direction to go. But this year, the Pow Wow had grown so large that they had a separate arena for vendors aside from the arena dedicated to the drums and dancing. I quickly scouted out the vendors before going into the drumming and dancing arena.

As I entered the sound of the big drums just electrified me. The drumbeat has sometimes been described as the heartbeat of mother earth. It certainly felt as though I was close to the heart of the earth: strong, warm, enlivening, inspiring, justice-demanding: the list of words to describe this sound cannot be exhausted. Drums are considered to be animate for many folk who are Indigenous to North America, sometimes called Turtle Island. I can understand why. The sound was life. The dancers were, I think, carried by the energy, by the soul of the drums.

I had occasion to catch up with some friends at the Pow Wow, wise people who I deeply admire. I am always warmed by their willingness to spend some time with me, sharing their insights and helping me to understand just a little bit more of the way of Turtle Island. And I had opportunity to visit with some young folk who I know from my life at the university, strong Indigenous voices who paint the world right, who converse with the earth and lead us into right relations with our mother, who study and teach, dance and sing, fight and write for the good of all creation. My afternoon just filled me with so much hope. Canada is a long way from where we need to be in our nation to nations conversations. But the conversation partners are ready to talk, passionate about a future lived out in a good way.

I came away from my afternoon at the Pow Wow so very thankful to the Creator for making this possible for me. I do not take these interactions for granted. Life itself bids us come and learn how to be, how to listen, how to smile. I saw so many smiles yesterday. I can only hope that one day we will see more smiles on the faces of people all across Turtle Island, faces glowing in their knowing that everything is related, and all life matters because it comes from the Source of life. We are but a speck in the universe, and knowing that sets us free to be humble and hopeful.

Glass in Hand

I’ve been thinking
about how my hand’s
ability to turn might
be a parable for
repentance,
until it turns into
a fist, and then I’m set
to wondering whether it
might be akin to a comet
plunging toward the
earth – about to level
the playing field – setting
the anthropocene on its head.
And then one finger pokes out and
my hand is making me to be John the
Baptist, even though I’m loath to eat
locusts. When the middle finger
pops out, my hand can stand
in for scissors until the
third finger is made
to measure how
much Scotch is
to fill the
glass in
my hand.

These words we are…

This week brought my semester’s teaching to an end. Marking is still outstanding, and a host of post semester responsibilities: some around publishing, some around church work, some around the to and fro that comes with life in an institution.

It has been nice to have a little room to breath. My colleagues and I have had a bit more time to chat, and check in with each other. This really is one of the best bits of my work. My years in parish ministry sometimes came with a sense of being on my own even though I always had supportive people in my parishes. But this isn’t quite the same as having colleagues to interact with daily. That is now the case, and this piece in my position reminds me of how community really is at the core of finding fulfillment in life.

This last year I have been reading Indigenous authors who also speak of this – but they tend to expand the understanding of community in important and interesting ways. They invite us to consider all of the natural world as our relation. Trees and bumble-bees; fox and stalks of grass; clouds, rivers, springs and tides are all our relations. It is a helpful tonic to the way we relate to the world more often; seeing it as a resource for meeting our ever fleeting and demanding desires. This perception is fed by the idea that the world is a big cupboard for the wanton wants of the oh so important human species.

There are theologians, philosophers, scholars of various stripes who are querying the idea that the humans are at the pinnacle of creation – a point made by Indigenous people around the world. These voices point out that our sense of superiority is undone by the track record of homo sapiens vis-à-vis planet care. Further, they recognize that other animals and plants seem to have varying capacities to communicate and relate, and demonstrate compassionate faculties sometimes sorely lacking in us.

Interestingly Luther, in his Genesis lectures, invited us to think of all created things as words of God. I find that to be a liberating idea, allowing me to imagine that I am surrounded by God speaking to me and to all creation, and no one vocable, no single sigh from the divine mouth outstrips the other in importance. Each word from God has a right time, a right place and they really cannot be compared.

This last week, as we spent time chatting over coffee, and in the halls, in the little bit of a lull awaiting the arrival of papers, my colleagues were words from God to me in various ways. And for that I am grateful. Of course, a word came here and there came from the tree on our front lawn – that I adore – and from the light slipping between the pine trees in the backyard, singing a laud that held me spell-bound for a time.

God speaks in so many ways with and to all of the creation. There are no apexes in this taxonomy. We live together; we die together; and just as importantly, we pray together, also speaking the word we are to the ears that hear and echo God’s words right back.

The Rocks Ringing

Lapping waves have their own sagas.
Deep in their memories drift tales of
mer creatures, and Behemoth, and Jonah, and
water learning to listen to the One whose
voice stilled the sea, stills me – more water
than not, sitting on the rocks ringing this harbour.

This is not my Island, but still it
claims something of me: my
eyes behold its beauty with wonder, my
ears hear ancestors sing the wind, my
nose knows that sulfur has its own
history, a mystery in its own right, and
my skins feels the rough and cool of
basalt rock with two tongues.

I step mindfully in this place, because
I know that You, Holy One, have inhabited
this land of ice and fire

far longer than our remembering
far stronger than our forgetting.

I step carefully in this place, because You are

under every stone,
around every corner
within every sound

and I pine for Your appearing.

At the Edge of Eternity

These days our tree
weeps joy,
bleeds peace,
sweats sweet spring …

I gasp and she
replies, but I do
not yet speak her
tongue. All the same,
I can see her buds brave
frosty mornings and,
at midday, her branches
shimmer, like locks, with
warm sun on glistening wood.

Pregnant with promise, she
preaches resurrection, she
hymns creation, she
lauds God.

With my hand on her trunk,
at the edge of eternity,
I wonder about her roots: are they
sated with humus, or do they
pine after the sky, which
her crown so delicately nibbles?

Eve and Adam

To learn more about runes, check out this site.

Eve,
today your
beauty was severe
as you sang the poetry of
trunks and branches runed,
and your face sparkled
with the blush of
first light.

Your breath spirited me
to this marvel of your
possessing me fully.
Here I fall ever
anew into you, into
your sacred site of joy.

I will not slip between
your fingers, but will cling
to you until that moment when
I finally and fully fall into death; and
until that days comes, I will
practice dying by coming
again and again to
the loam I am:
Adam.

Another Epiphany

This place feels strange, but
still, when I touch the
earth I feel home: this
red soil God bleeding
Adam, this crisp air God
spiriting Eve. The primal
pair is everywhere with
their progeny in tow.
Here I crouch on
the backs of
elders.

Not far from where I trace
You in the dirt, ancestors
watch me, seeing
whether I will
pay respect or not.

I try by God I try to walk in a good way.

I breath, and You come to me:
clothed with hills that pleat round
your sacred sites; Your cheeks now
flush with generosity; Your
locks frame your strength.

I look up to the rocks and
see You seeing me now
through these eyes, now
through those.

And I breath again and then
remember this: we all share
Your breathing us and
that is Joy.

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But a flicker

Yesterday our tree got a
a trim, only it isn’t really
our tree. It is actually our
elder, deeply rooted in
earth. Being closer to sun,
it beams. Scooping up wind,
it sings. Stretching across our lot,
it draws us in, only it really
isn’t our lot, our plot, our earth.
We belong to it, or so said
Chief Seattle, and I suspect
we would all do well to
trade “seize” for “see” and
be a bit more circumspect
at the prospect that we
own anything. We are
but a flicker across the
spectral vision of the divine
whose seeing us is the only reason
we have not yet slipped back into
the dust from whence tree imbibes life.

Yesterday, our tree got a trim.
Today, I touched its trunk and breathed.

Come Sit with Me a Bit

Not so very far from
the door You stand, You,
source of my life, my strife both.
You stand between here and there,
and yet ‘stand’ is not quite right:
You whom I chance to meet with
the breath of a child, in
the wrinkle of the aged, on
the hard, smooth surface of
a rock – grandfather, grandmother.

I do not know You and yet I know You knowing me.

Come, sit with me a bit.
Let our breath be as one, so when mine
ceases, death is bested by love.
Let our seeing be as one, so that hope
finds a fallowed field seeded with tears.
Let our hearing be as one, so I finally
hear the trees, the stars, singing You,
in my hearing, seeing, breathing
You.