Tuesday, October 31, 2017

She's back...

Grandmother came to visit last night. I haven't seen much of her since we moved up the mountain last year. Maybe she figures I'm living close enough to the Real now that I don't need her constant reminders. Maybe she just knows I'm under the care of a true priest.

But when Simon and I were sitting out on our porch in the chill dark last Sunday evening, listening to somebody singing a song down in the town, I looked up and there she was. When Grandmother had my attention, she whispered at me. Her voice sounds just like a night wind in pine trees. That doctor didn't tell you much, did he?

Grandmother is like that. She never tells me anything I don't know. Mostly she just asks questions. “Wilder doesn't know much, Grandmother,” I told her. “He wants to poke around my innards a little bit next week and see what he can find out.”

Grandmother didn't move. She didn't bat an eye. But I could hear her speaking to me. How much does he need to know, boy? How about you?

Nothing short of an honest answer will do for Grandmother, so I tried to give her one. “I probably know as much as I need to know already, Grandmother. I'm in the right place. I'm having a good life. I feel right in the world. I have to tell you I'm curious, though. I'd like to have an idea where this is all headed.”

Then, I thought I heard Grandmother laugh, that way she has of laughing, like tiny feet scurrying across dry poplar leaves. Boy, haven't you seen enough already to know where we're all headed? If now is not enough to satisfy you, how many tomorrows do you think it might take?”

I wanted to tell her then that now is more than enough, more than I ever deserved, but her chair was empty. The breeze rocked it a little, as if someone had just gotten up from it and flown away.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Down and dirty...

Last night was our first hard freeze of the season. So yesterday afternoon, we dug our sweet potatoes, even though the ground was still a bit wet for it. Here's a few of them. They'll look a lot better by the time we eat them.

Sunday, October 29, 2017


Life meanders along; we get used to the flow
until, quite unexpectedly, we round a bend
and our Changing is upon us;
while we try to figure out
what is going on, what it is all about
it happens to us and carries us forward
into the Mystery where we were birthed;
then we know we have not arrived
at our end, but in the Beginning;
at last we come to understand-
all our desperate little words
are echoes and reverberations
of the Word ever spoken.

Saturday, October 28, 2017


Oh, I am going out the door
Away into the night
And sleep upon the forest floor
And wake to leafy light
I might pretend that I am lost
And make a fire that's bright
And hot enough to ward the frost
And melt my heart aright.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Awhile away...

I need to go awhile away
upon a snowy mountain,
where silence fills the blessed day
like water from a fountain,

and there to stay a spell alone
among the spruce and heather,
as calm and patient as a stone
beneath the winter's weather

until my restless mind is still
and all my cares forsaken
and in the space they used to fill
I feel my soul awaken.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


East along the ridge tops
Where dawn is growing bright,
Pines and oaks and poplars
Pay homage to the Light,
Throwing down their shadows
Upon the valley floor,
Lifting up their arms to greet
Day coming through the door.
Calling down Sun’s blessing
To warm us through our day,
Calling up our dreams from sleep
To guide us on the way;
So praise to all our Sisters
Who whisper to the wind,
And praise our golden Brother
Who lights us to the end.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


He cannot walk and cannot fly,
Hung there between the earth and sky;
He never lived, so cannot die;
His whole existence is a lie;
He cannot laugh; he cannot cry;
He’s only that which meets the eye,
A hat, a shirt, a cast-off tie,
Something to frighten starlings by.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Certain as the seasons...

Some things are as certain as the seasons, like the arrival of seed garlic and shallots from Sow True Seed every October. They arrived at just the right time this year, landing in a string of crisp sunny days, enough time to get them in the ground before the next rain. Come next spring, we'll be glad we took the hours to do it.

Monday, October 23, 2017

I'd neverr been...

I'd never been to a healing service in any tradition until last Wednesday, when I walked up the hill to Church of the Transfiguration. I may go back this Wednesday, too, if I'm able.

What brought on this change of habit? My friend and urologist, Wilder Little, ordered a CT scan for me because he thought I might have bladder or kidney stones. The good news is that he couldn't see any stones. The other news is that he found a spot on one of my kidneys. Abnormality is the euphemism he chose to not scare me with. It didn't entirely succeed.

He's going to have to go in for a closer look, he says. I told him to continue being Little when he does. In fact, he may have already done it by the time you read this. Mary was out of the office on the day I received all this exciting news, and will schedule my hospital adventure when she returns.

So I went to a healing service and my friend and priest Jim anointed me with oil and prayed for my wholeness with God. I really don't imagine anything Jim does or says will change God's mind about me, although if anybody could, it would be Jim. I do believe in my heart I will be in the peopled world just as long as I should be. I have trusted God for that much when I've been healthy and when I've thought death was an immediate possibility, and nothing has happened yet in my experience to cause me to reconsider.

So I'm not quite sure exactly why I thought I needed to go to church last Wednesday, if not to beg that my sorry kidney not be allowed to kill me. I think it was mainly because, knowing Christ has offered his brokenness for me, I didn't want to miss this chance to offer my little brokenness back to God, while it was still fresh.

Sunday, October 22, 2017


There were eight generations of Baptists in our clan until I jumped ship for the Quakers. My grandfather was a Baptist preacher. So was one of his sons and one of his grandsons. The rest of us escaped the family curse. I figure I'm safe by now, old as I am, hidden among the Episcopalians.

Grandfather was a fine preacher, theologically ahead of his time, and he suffered for it. Baptists were about as open to original insight then as they are now. He confessed that he sometimes picked a sermon green, and had to put it back on the shelf and let it ripen for awhile before he let anybody hear it.

Editor accused me of picking my latest novel green, but I haven't put it on the shelf. After an extensive re-write, I'm going through Slick Rock Creek one more time, chapter by chapter and line by line, tuning and tweaking and polishing as required. It's going to be a long process. There are twenty-seven chapters. I'm on chapter four. I might be done by Christmas.

It is a better story now, though not quite the story Editor or the author anticipated. If it turns out to be my last novel, it will be my best.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

If that don't make you...

Photo by David Longley

My friend Wayseeker has been down on the Luftee again. He wouldn't let me go with him, but he sent me this picture. If that ain't enough to make you wish you were there, you don't deserve to be.

Friday, October 20, 2017

This place...

There is this place over between Clear Creek and Duck Branch where you can go and sit for a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon and listen to somebody play a Lakota flute the way it was made for.

I'm glad there is such a place and happy I was there and grateful to Geri for telling us about it.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Over the past week or so, I’ve been re-reading a book on centering prayer, in preparation for committing to this practice in company with several brothers in faith. I have to say at this point, the book has proven one more time both a blessing and a stumbling block for me.
It is a blessing because it clarifies my thought on the nature of prayer, and because it reminds me of the necessity not to think about prayer, especially while I pray. It is a stumbling block because it systemizes and methodizes and processes what arises most purely out of Mystery beyond analysis and prioritizing and naming.
Clive said prayer is God talking to God through us. That leaves us with nothing useful to do in God’s sight but to be open to the flow of Spirit. In that sense, prayer is the ultimate self-forgetfulness. As long as I can see anything of me, I see that much less of Christ. That is how it is. I can’t begin to know how that works, whatever words I might spin out to you now about it. All I can tell you from experience is that I cannot enter prayer without letting go of myself. Prayer is nothing we can do; I’m convinced of that. Prayer is what Spirit does in us and through us, and the most we can do is try to make room in our souls for Her working.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

...the dust on the path.

Willa Cather said, "A way that is right for one is never right for two." There is an old Quaker proverb that goes, "When you go with God, you go alone." That may just be two different ways of viewing the same place.

Often we do feel we walk our path alone, that no one else discerns our way, or shares our passion for following it. But as long as there is a path to follow, we are never alone. We may think we are solitary, but other souls, perhaps braver and wiser than us, made the path before us, and have already discovered what awaits us over the next ridge.

Long after we have walked the way and come to our end, others who maybe never hear our name will trek behind us, adding their footprints where we have added ours. All of us are fellow-pilgrims, sharing the journey home. If we feel alone in our walking, it may be we take too narrow a view of time. If you are merciful, you might leave a friendly sign of your passing along the way, to cheer some lonesome traveler yet to come by.

We come and we go, but the journey is eternal. As Rumi said, "We are the dust on the path."