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Selected written meditations

Two weeks after the first fall rains

Thursday, 29 October 2009, San Mateo, California.

At my feet, the roadsides
have turned green; across the bay,
the still hills are brown.


This happened this morning

Tuesday, 15 July 2008, Ferry Beach Universalist Conference Center, Maine

 Right in the middle of church
 outdoors in the pine woods chapel
 the preacher gets stopped
 by a loud caw. The preacher
 pauses, smiles, and says,
“He was outside my house
 early this morning,” and we laugh.

 The crow caws again and grows
 more raucous. The crows always
 have the last word. They’ll be
 cawing here long after
 preacher and people have died and
 gone to dust and dirt.
 After church ends, as I
 sit and write this down

 three crows come close and watch me,
 hoping for food, impatient.


Two sky meditations

Wednesday, 20 July 2005, Geneva, Illinois.


At nine this morning, a few clouds passed overhead. I was out for a walk, before it got hot, and a few raindrops fell for perhaps two minutes: a trace of rain. Then at noon, dark clouds rolled in from the west. I was at the car dealer getting a brake job. When the rain hit, we all stopped whatever we were doing and watched. The rain began just before one o'clock, the thunder and lightning were furious for five minutes, and the rain and wind lashed down. We could smell the rain.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" someone said.

"I like it best when there's real loud thunder and lightning," said someone else.

"We need the rain," said the service manager. "I was talking to a farmer who lives near me, and he said the corn is only four feet tall and it's tassling out. He's going to get a third less bushels than usual." By one twenty, the heavy rain was over, and some light sprinkles persisted for another twenty minutes.


An incredible sky this evening just at sunset. The setting sun shone on the upper level cirrostratus clouds turning them pastel orange, pastel yellow, pastel red. The lower cumulus clouds, still boiling up trying to become thunderheads, glowed robin's-egg blue inside white edges. Presumably they were reflecting the stretch of blue sky straight overhead, but they reminded me of the color of a glacier I once saw: glowing ice blue. I have never seen clouds that color before. It was a beautiful and disconcerting sight.

The lower clouds sped eastward, turning leaden as they went. By the time I had reached the depot, a fifteen minute walk, all blue faded away. The sun faded in the west, until even the upper clouds had only a faint rosy edge in places, and the white dimmed to gray, and then to dusk. From the first yellow glow in the sky to dusk took only twenty minutes.


Early March

Geneva, Illinois, 2005.

A warm afternoon. The people out walking on Third Street wear shirt sleeves, no coats. The warm weather fooled some of the grass into greening up a little. We're not fooled. More cold air masses pushing down out of Canada and everything will freeze again. At least one more snow storm sweeping in from the west dropping heavy wet snow. Deep snow in places, where you have to wade through drifts to uncover the car. Mercifully the car starts this time but there's this new spot of rust just below the door looking ugly and lots more hidden under fading paint of that I have no doubt. No doubt spring will be fully here some day soon. In the meantime the car warms up enough to begin another winter journey home. This is what we know will come. More cold. More snow. Spring, eventually. But at the moment it's a warm afternoon in early March with no reason to think any farther ahead than now.


Adaptation of a hymn from Ralph T. H. Griffith's translation of The Rig Veda, Book 1, Hymn 49

Come to us, come down, to our realm
from beyond the bright sky. Come, o dawn,
drawn by fiery horses, come to the house
where he pours out fragrant juice.

Your bright chariot, pulled by fiery horses,
is shaped to please the eye, light and agile,
o dawn. And you climb in it, coming here,
coming to aid mortals with noble aims.

O dawn, bright sky being, your coming
awakens creatures to wander earth,
stirs flocks of birds into sky, flying now
to all the boundaries of heaven.

Your radiant light, o dawn, grows bright,
the sky above and around us grows bright,
your beauty brought to earth. We call you,
just as you are, with our sacred songs.