Archive for January, 2009


Today, an historic moment. One that I never dreamed possible in my lifetime. There, on my television screen, a sea of people of all colors and creeds standing between the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building. Breath visible in the frigid air. Tears on so many cheeks. People my age and older. Men and women in uniform. School children waving small flags stapled to wooden dowels.

It is not the politics that move me. It is not the promise of hope. It is the possibility of cherishing and tending to democracy and democratic ideals…it is the remembrance of the vision and the provocative proposition that “all humans are created equal” that took over two hundred years to manifest…even hours after President Obama was sworn in, this is what moves me to tears.

May we be reminded here of our
highest aspirations,
and inspired to bring our gifts of
love and service to the altar of

May we know once again that we
are not isolated beings
but connected, in mystery and
miracle, to the universe,
to this community and to each

From Singing the Living Tradition


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Only in our doing can we grasp you.
Only with our hands can we illumine you.
The mind is but a visitor;
it thinks us out of our world.

Each mind fabricates itself.
We sense it limits, for we have made them.
And just when we would flee them, you come
and make of yourself an offering.

I don’t want to think a place for you.
Speak to me from everywhere.
Your Gospel can be comprehended
without looking for its source.

When I go toward you
it is with my whole life.

I, 51

Rilke’s Book of Hours
Translated by Anita Barrows & Joanna Macy

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At daybreak, the Pileated Woodpecker gores the locust tree behind the shed. It’s barely above zero and snowing tiny cold crystals. I watch and count the male cardinals. Nine, I think. Towhees, rosy finches, goldfinches, chicadees, titmice…all ravenous, patiently waiting. The driveway is a sheet of ice under fresh snow.

Yesterday, I watched the Sharp-Shinned Hawk sunning himself in the late afternoon. Biting wind ruffled his feathers while he carefully and methodically tucked one talon at a time up under his body for warmth. I waited, wanting to see him fly; concerned that his presence was keeping the small birds from gathering on the feeders. As the light faded, I opened the window and watched him swoop to the west, circle twice and head north.


In the winter I am writing about, there was much darkness. Darkness of nature, darkness of event, darkness of the spirit. The sprawling darkness of not knowing. We speak of the light of reason. I would speak here of the darkness of the world, and the light of ________. But I don’t know what to call it. Maybe hope. Maybe faith, but not a shaped faith–only, say, a gesture, or a continuum of gestures. But probably it is closer to hope, that is more active, and far messier than faith must be. Faith, as I imagine it, is tensile, and cool, and has no need of words. Hope, I know, is a fighter and a screamer…


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Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.


Rilke’s Book of Hours
trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

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