On this glistening morning,
as the sun breaks through,
let nothing enter my mind
but awe, no word speak
itself that is not a word
of wonder and thanksgiving.
Before the rush and routine
of the day can sweep me away,
let me dwell here in the midst
of this green and golden now
until my very cells are drenched
in its Yes and gladness. Amen.
Signs abound in the civilized world.
On the store shelves, bright notebooks
and glue sticks replace the tank tops,
shorts give way to socks. And suddenly
the lumbering yellow school buses
interrupt the traffic’s flow, stopping
at every block to disgorge children
who fly to their doorsteps like birds
filled with chirping news. But summer
can linger long after school bells ring.
I’ll rely on the fading of the ferns,
which gently begin to yellow and wear
the first fallen leaves in their hair.
Find a refuge where you can rest
your mind. Fill it with serenity, and safety,
with sun, and warmth, and the singing
of cool waters. Let it be a place
where wildflowers grow, and where
birds flit among the branches
of the wide-leafed trees. Then,
when the world is too much with you,
its din too loud, its conflicts too brutal,
its disasters too much to bear,
retreat to this space of beauty and peace
and breathe it until you remember
that you are whole, and that much exists
that sings the Yes, and that, in the end,
nothing else will stand.
At first, I confess, the joe pye weed
dismayed me. The way it sprouted
so tall and gangly above the rest
of the plants in the field with its thick
stalk and big toothed leaves, it seemed
a cartoon ogre of some kind. Even
when its lavender buds finally appeared,
I was not impressed, given the way
they quickly put forth scraggly hairs.
But many seasons have since passed,
and now the joe pye hold a place of honor
in my heart. I think of them as kings,
crowning summer’s long parade
of wildflowers. I bow to them
and thank them for reminding me
not to be too quick to judge. Sometimes
frogs become princes; sometimes
weeds become kings.
The first scents of autumn
float on the air now. Birdsong
is giving way to the sounds
of frogs and crickets. I notice,
as I gaze at the scarlet zinnia
in my garden, a grasping
at the moment, a wanting
for it to stay, a wishing
that the season of flowers
lasted all year long. But then,
I tell myself, the brevity
of it is what makes it precious.
Let go. Your grasping only
subtracts from what is now
before you. Let it be,
and it will fill all time.
Because you trust enough to spread
your wings, let me give you sky.
Because you love to soar, let me
send currents of air to lift you.
Because you never doubt that
I will provide, let me give you berries
for your journey. Because you sing,
let me give you love.
Not everyone has to stand directly
in the sun to thrive. Some of us
live our whole lives in shadows,
catching the rays second-hand.
They ricochet off the sky, sneak
around corners, bounce off walls,
whatever it takes. Light’s like that,
finding you and beaming just as much
as you need to brighten you
with the knowing that you are seen
and cherished, even though you
are planted in the shade.
All night, the river flowed,
gathering stars into its waters
and feeding them to the vines
and grasses, the flowers and trees
that lined its banks. In the morning,
the starlight took on the form
of dew and the greenery gave
its colors to the river as a gift
of thanks. And all of this in silence,
except for the singing of the water
and the whisper through the grasses
and the leaves of the gentle breeze.
And the sky looked down, and seeing
this dance, blessed it, and was content.
This particular Autumn has never been here before.
She has the instructions; she knows what to do.
But this is the first time that she’s tried it
for real, here in the three-dimensional world.
She asks for volunteers, early adopters you might say,
and explains that risks are involved, that problems
may arise, even though she is well-schooled
and personally not only confident, but excited.
And so, on one bright August morning, she
concentrates on the music of crimson and scarlet
hues, and when she is fully charged with their
exquisite vibrations, she touches the hearts
of each volunteer, filling them with the sound.
And instantly, each one is transformed
and glowing with color and joy. And all
the other leaves applaud and dance, shouting
“Me, too! Me, too!” And Autumn laughs,
and says, “Your turn will come, my darlings.
And I promise you, it will be splendid, indeed.
For now, sing your beautiful green, and wait,
and enjoy this little sneak preview.”
The Zen teacher, she told us,
said to take all the beauty
that you have ever seen
and give it as an offering.
Imagine! All the faces
of loved ones, and of strangers,
the babies, the lined old ones,
the smooth ones of youth;
all the animals, the rainbows
and the rainbows of birds,
the jeweled insects with their
gossamer wings, the ones
who live in the sea; and the sea
itself in all its moods, and all
the brooks and rivers that feed it;
and the mountains, and the snow,
and the deserts red beneath
a full moon, and the deep sky
with its towering clouds
and its shimmering stars,
and all the colors it wears
at sunset and sunrise,
and all the trees of the world,
and the precious flowers.
And everything else you love
that has trilled you with its
beauty. Imagine taking all these
into your arms, and lifting them
up to the sky and sending them
off to fly to the center of the Yes,
while tears run down your face
in gratitude, and your soul sings,
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!