Meditations

St. John’s Rabbit

St. John’s Rabbit

From St. John of the Cross, 16th c mystical poet, translated by Daniel Ladinsky:

” I was sad one day and went for a walk.
I sat in a field.
A rabbit noticed my condition and
came near.
It often does not take more than that to help at times —
to just be close to creatures who
are so full of knowing,
so full of love
that they don’t
— chat,
they just gaze with
their understanding.”

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: Read the poem again, slowly, once or twice. What memories, hopes, or imaginings do the poet’s words stir up in you?

A Season for Deepening

A Season for Deepening

This winter reflection comes from “The Circle of Life” by Maria Weiserkehr and Joyce Rupp:

“Although one of the spiritual invitations of winter, that of contemplation and reflective pondering, is high on my list of favorites, getting out in cold weather has always been something I dread. One of my first memories of winter and childhood is this: I was standing in the snow, bundled up from head to toe in my snowsuit, woolen hood pulled down over my nose, hands imprisoned in mittens. I was crying (I think it was more like screaming) ‘Let me out. Let me out. I’m locked in!’ The challenge of winter is how to go within without feeling locked in. Winter has much to teach us about the inner journey. It suggests a time of resting and deepening, a time to gather the resources needed in other seasons. Winter has a lovely way of calling us home to what is essential. Among those essentials is the simple act of waiting in trust and not trying to make anything happen. We can’t lock out all the cold, unpleasant parts of winter life. If we try to do that, we will also lock out some of the beauty. We can, however, let some of our plans go, and practice receiving just what is. Winter, with its sensational kind of letting go, is a marvelous teacher and has secrets to share with us.”

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: What are your earliest memories of winter? What does “letting some of [your] plans go, and [practicing] receiving just what is” mean to you? How comfortable are you with “the simple act of waiting in trust and not trying to make anything happen”?

Winter Paradise (A Poem by Kathleen Raine)

Winter Paradise (A Poem by Kathleen Raine)

Now I am old and free from time
How spacious life,
Unbeginning unending sky where the wind blows
The ever-moving clouds and clouds of starlings on the wing,
Chaffinch and apple-leaf across my garden lawn,
Winter paradise
With its own birds and daisies
And all the near and far that eye can see,
Each blade of grass signed with the mystery
Across whose face unchanging everchanging pass
Summer and winter, day and night.
Great countenance of the unknown known
You have looked upon me all my days,
More loved than lover’s face,
more merciful than the heart, more wise
Than spoken word, unspoken theme
Simple as earth in whom we live and move.

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: Which season of life are you experiencing now? How do you respond to the poet’s assertion that in old age life becomes spacious? The final line might remind you of a favorite collect found in Morning Prayer, addressed to the Holy One “in whom we live and move and have our being.” You can find this prayer on page 100 of the Book of Common Prayer. Try praying it today!

A Certain Day (Poem by Denise Levertov)

A Certain Day (Poem by Denise Levertov)

“A certain day became a presence to me;
there it was, confronting me — a sky, air, light,
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day’s blow
rang out metallic — or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew. I can.”

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: The poet forefronts a day that was, to her, unlike most others. Has a day (or a place, or a time) suddenly become as unexpectedly real to you as this one day did to her? How did you respond to such a new reality? Where was God for you in the experience?

The Silk Worm (Rumi)

The Silk Worm (Rumi)

“I stood before a silk work one day.
And that night my heart said to me,
‘I can do things like that, I can spin skies,
I can be woven into love that can bring warmth to people;
I can be soft against a crying face,
I can be wings that lift, and I can travel on my thousand feet
throughout the earth,
my sacks filled
with the sacred.’
And I replied to my heart,
‘Dear, can you really do all these things?’
And it just nodded ‘Yes’
in silence.
So we began and will never
cease.”

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: If you asked the Spirit “Can we really do all these things together” what would the Spirit say? Are you being led toward small kindnesses? Great adventures? Something else?