Manna Meditations

the gospel of ordinary things…

Manna Meditations, Day 7

Lord, preach to me a gospel
of ordinary things:

a snatch of sky, caught in a puddle …

tree-shadows, spangling the pavement …

Remind me that all the earth is a cathedral —
one not built by human hands.

For You told us, once,
that if we human creatures couldn’t praise You,
the stones would cry out.

And You promised us
that a day would come
when the mountains and hills
would burst into song —
every green tree clapping its hands.

And I am thinking:

This age-old earth was here before Adam,
singing Your song, before stained-glass
or steeple,
or even Scripture.

Rotting logs and fallen limbs,
silent stones, ice-slicked streams,
eagles and herons and small nameless birds,
wood beetles and pill-bugs, lank eyeless worms …

Oh, Lord … these were Your first worshippers.

And it occurs to me now:  they have been trying to teach us ever since.

The moss-covered stone,
who meditates without moving,
who rests, and waits,
and sings without speaking a word.

The ancient oak,
who lifts her head to the light,
quivers & dances, shimmies and sways,
shaking each leaf in shameless undignified praise.

The waterfall,
which drops to its knees a thousand times a day —
perpetually prostrate, slain in the Spirit,
as if that’s what it was made for.

(And maybe it was.)

And the birds …
oh, Lord! the sparrows
(not one of which, You are quick to point out,
falls from the nest without Your notice).
Even now, Lord, the sparrows are singing …

in midwinter.

in bitter cold.

They hop and dance circles in the snow,
laugh and leap and shout out their songs …
raucous rebels, they don’t care who hears.

Ah, Lord.

Ah, Lord.

I have made much complaining about Your silence.

So let me not miss this gospel You’ve been singing me
every day, outside my window,
whether I notice it
or not.

Manna Meditations

quiet …

Manna Meditations, Day 2

Blue Ridge Parkway. Black ribbon of road:

I let the car swoop and dive through the curves, trying not to look at the vistas.

The views: it’s why people come here, you know. There are overlooks every few miles where you can pull your car off the road and stand in awe. The valleys unroll before you, cloudswept, for fifty miles or more.

But this is not what I have come for.

There was a time in my life when I feared winter. It closed over me every year like a black curtain, walling off the light. Suddenly I’d find myself in a small dark room, with a darker presence hunching in the corner.

In those winters, all I could see was ugliness. Shade after shade of dark.

But now, I stop at the overlooks and scuff around in the weeds, my soul flooded with wonder.

I am not looking at the vistas. I’m looking at tufts of long winter grass, waving like soft pale feathers against the sky. I’m marveling at the still-brilliant green of the moss. Finding elegant lines, cracked into boulders, or water-carved into soil.

Something has changed in me. That I have eyes to see all this?  I call it Miracle.

On an overlook, my iPhone dies, so I cannot take more photos. That’s all right, I think. I breathe in the frozen air, and with it, the initimacy of this moment… just the mountains, the Maker, and me. I walk down the slope, looking toward Poages Mill. Stretch out a hand and clutch a frozen stalk of frost-killed Daisy Fleabane, its once-white petals now crystallized into tiny copper stars. A constellation in miniature. And suddenly I am overcome by the idea that this dry dead stalk is just as lovely as the flower in full bloom.



A different kind of beauty. Subtle as a whisper. Pale as winter light.

God, I think, give me new eyes and ears, out here in the quiet.

I climb the hill to the car. Fire the engine. I trace the Parkway back the way I’ve come, not looking at the peaks, but listening to the wind around the car as I swish and swerve down the spine of the mountain.



Ah, Lord. Sometimes your voice is nothing but a whisper… And it is good


hungry and fearless and thirsty and supple …

I’ll tell you a secret … I’ve been a little distracted lately.




(Which — I’ll tell you — is a very modern and grown-up kind of brokenness.)

But today, I went for a walk in the woods — something I haven’t done for months now. 

I disappeared into a hole in the trees — freckled dark shade and lush underbrush.  I felt alive and at peace, and when I came out, I walked home and rustled through the bookshelves until I found this little gem by Mr. Cummings (or cummings, if you like) … 

It’s a poem, but today I’m saying it like a prayer… For me and for you:

e.e. cummings

May we stay hungry and fearless and thirsty and supple, always. ❤  

Almost Poetry

the imperfectionist’s prayer

oh, Lord, leave me…

… undone.

heal me,
but don’t –
(forgive me
for saying it)
– fix everything.

keep me
a little messy,
a little broken,
disordered and
a touch disorderly…

do this so that someone might stand in just the right place, at just the right time, in just the right state of mind, and see — oh, God — as the sun slams through the wreckage, lights up its edges, stripes it in shadow, and makes it — for a brief moment —



oh, Lord, leave me like that. ❤

Everyday Wonder

Good Words for Thanksgiving …

Today, as so many of us here in the States board planes or toss bags into cars to rush home for the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought I’d share this little snatch of a poem from Mary Oliver.

Somehow it just seems right:


Happy Thanksgiving, friends … Today I’m wishing you a little space to draw a breath … to take in some quiet magic.

Me, too. ❤

Almost Poetry

Oh, God, if only you might give me the words …

… to speak the song the cicadas are singing —
that murmur and hum filling the trees.
But their song is wholly their own,
and no matter what words I use,
mine would only be a poor copy —
and why bother to copy such a thing,
when anyone can go out on a summer night
and sit spellbound to the sound
of the original?

But oh, God — I beseech you —
we have stopped hearing it.
A thousand nights these voices sing for us,
their words worn-out white noise,
the meaning lost like a long-ago first language,
so that in the song we hear no language at all.
And, oh, God, if you might give me the words,
perhaps I might shake us out of deafness,
so we might stand stunned under the canopy:
silent to it.  Listening.

Oh, teach me to sing it:
a hundred thousand voices
whirling wild in the trees,
filling the green air
with buzzing vibrato,
crying out over and over:
Love me, Love me —
the summer is short,
this life is so brief …
oh, love me while you can —
You!  Yes, you –

while my body can still sing,
still love, and sunlight still
spangles the branches …

Which I guess is the same song
we’re all singing,
after all.