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Friday after Lent I–March 6, 2009

  • Posted on Mar 6, 2009

Herald the Spring

In the rising of the sun and its setting,
in the whiteness of the moon and its seasons,
in the infinity of space and its shining stars
you are God and we bless you.
May we know the harmony of heaven in the relationship of the earth
and may we know the expanse of its mystery within us.
from Philip Newell’s Celtic Treasures

In the midst of Lent, the heralds of spring are here. On my day off, it was time to be outdoors. The first bike ride of the spring was calling. Out to the NCR trail. It was hard going with snow and ice melting and the bike tires glumping in the mud. But I was outside on the bike! All creation was out as well. Especially the birds. A bright red cardinal flew across my path. The sparrows were building their nests. A hawk flew in the tree above me. The woods were aflush with song and all manner of chirping. I felt a new energy. Spring is here.

Now I know that there will be more cold weather–even a late March snowstorm. But all God’s creatures know that spring is around the corner. Even the community cats at Clipper Mill are out and about. There was great excitement in the apartment when my dog Futhi and cat Mr Kitty spied the black cat in the woods hunting for game. There is hope in the air when the creatures of God stir. Even in Lent.

Being outdoors always brings me back to myself–the person God has created me to be. And that’s certainly in keeping with the Lenten journey. On this beautiful March weekend, spend some time outside and see if that is true for you. Here’s a Mary Oliver poem to get you going:

Such Singing in the Wild Branches

It was spring
and finally I heard him
among the first leaves–
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness-
and that’s when it happened.

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree–
and I began to understand
what the first was saying,

and the sands in the glass
stopped
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing–
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfectly blue sky–all, all of them

were singing.
And, of course, yes, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

for more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,
you’ve been there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then–open the door and fly on your heavy feet;the song
may already be drifting.—from Owls and Other Fantasies by Mary Oliver