Sabbath thoughts as the leaves begin to shift...

It is a sobering fact but by late July the fire bush leaves are beginning to brighten and turn: autumn is just around the corner in the Berkshires.  Sure, I will live in outward denial for another month - and there will still be some hot and humid days - but the early signs are clear for those with eyes to see.  For some reason, this old tune popularized by Chad and Jeremy in 1965 keeps playing in my head...

We have let our garden lie fallow this summer - too many things going on in the Spring and early days of June to pay much attention - and I rather like the Biblical invitation to Jubilee on our own small scale, too.  So the the field is filled with wild flowers, beautiful weeds as well as a few misplaced day lilies of the deepest pink-orange I've ever seen.  A few gorgeous butter yellow lilies have joined the chorus, too.

July is about to end and I am just getting into the groove of midsummer.  Hmmm... isn't that just like the liturgical season of Ordinary Time.  (BTW I will soon be sharing a review of a delicious book compiled by Sarah Arthur entitled, At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time, published by Paraclete Press.  Check them out @ )  One of the many brilliant poems included in this volume, "Small Things" by Anna Kamiensk, captures both my dawning awareness that summer is about to end just as I am noticing as well as the wisdom of the long season in the church between Pentecost and Advent.

It usually starts taking shape
from one word
reveals itself in one smile
sometimes in the blue glint of eyeglasses
in a trampled daisy
in a splash of light on a path
in quivering carrot leaves
in a bunch of parsley
It comes from laundry hung on a balcony
from hands thrust into dough
It seeps through closed eyelids
as through the prison wall of things or objects
of faces of landscapes
It's when you slice bread
when you pour out some tea
It comes from a broom a shopping bag
from peeling new potatoes
from a drop of blood from the prick of a needle
when making panties for a child
or sewing a button on a husband's burial shirt
It comes out of toil out of care
out of immense fatigue in the evening
out of a tear wiped away
out of a prayer broken off in mid-word by sleep

It's not from the grand
but from every tiny thing
that it grows enormous
as if Someone was building Eternity
as a swallow its nest
out of clumps of moments

The moments are starting to clump for me today - my Sabbath - as I look at what has happened this week - this month/year - and what still lays ahead: Vacations plans have had to change, new staff has been hired at church, relationships and marriages of loved ones and friends have come to a close, dear and faithful people have died or moved far away, we travelled to Istanbul and revelled in the music and people and beauty, our various musical bands have taken a break and are now starting to reconnect for a new season of music, children have visited and feasted and returned to their homes, the callouses on my fingers have come and gone a bit, too (and are starting to come back!)

Another poem in Arthur's collection, this one by the Nigerian-American writer, Enuma Okoro, captures what is just starting to burn through my haze:

It is a hard art to learn,
catching quiet
by palms raised
cupped in
air shifting location
here and there like
trying to guess the pattern of falling leaves,
and hoping to feel
the soft descent of moments
when silence slips
between sounds.
This ordinary time is
gifted with days,
weeks of mundane grace
routinely following the liturgy
of hours anticipating creation
tuning its prayer and praise to the
rhytyhms of incarnate love.

I am used to the uproar,
the Holy drama,
the appetite's gnarled discord
of fasting and feasting on borrowed, time,
the knocking of angels,
the blubbering piety of waiting,
appointed seasons for guild and grief, tears of joy and disbelief,
the birth of miracles, the passion of virgins,
the mourning of a love so divine.

This ordinary time is
gifted in its quiet, marked passing
Christ slips about
calling and baptizing,
sending and affirming,
pour his Spirit like water
into broken cisterns,
sealing cracks and filtering our senses,
that we may savor the foolish
simplicity of his grace.
("Passing Ordinary Time")

The foolish simplicity of his grace - the bounty amidst what seems either barren or boring - is part of the blessing of this time, yes?  We will walk a little today - and prepare a new and tasty evening meal - and savor the quiet time of this Sabbath. And just below the surface, I will keep hearing what Paul Simon got so right when he released his new song cycle - "So Beautiful...or So What?" - as it keeps coming back to my soul these days much like the soft red on our fire bush tree.


Black Pete said…
Keep them calluses hard, man! (Ye Wisdome of Sainte Robertus Dylanus)

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