Praise Songs

Among the giant redwoods
so massive and ancient
that they are hard to comprehend
time slows down.

It becomes necessary to grow silent
to listen
to look
to touch.

Breathing the sweet green fragrance
of ferns newly unfurled
we must meander slowly
from tree to tree
feeling the roughness
of their craggy, braided bark
and their invitation to enter in
to a different way of knowing:
long and slow,
perceiving—not without humor—
how small
and how quick
are our own lives.

We must listen to the singing stream
as it makes its way
through thickets of alder
and salmonberry
translucent green leaves
backlit by the sun.

We must see enormous ferns
and trilliums and wild iris
and conchs and banana slugs
each more amazing than the last.

And then in the dazzle
of a shaft of sunlight
we will notice a persistent,
complicated song
repeated again and again,
variations on a theme,
the sound so glorious
we could weep—
surely it must be a spectacular bird
made on the scale of the giant ferns
and the massive trees.

But no
it is a tiny brown wren
no bigger than a man’s thumb
perched on a mossy log


filling the whole ancient forest
with exquisite song.

This is how we should live
our small and quick lives
among all that is ancient
and massive and slow:

singing praise songs
in voices so beautiful
that we ourselves are a blessing.

The Greatest Mystery We Know

For Marcia

Spirit of Life, Breath of our Breath:

Now is the time when new cottonwood leaves
tremble in the breeze,
ferns and lilies decorate the forests,
and lush peonies and roses
fill the air with sweet fragrance.

How can it be that this riot of green,
these extravagant petals,
will fade and fall,
scattered on the wind?

How can it be that one moment,
a loved one breathes,
and the next they do not?

And how can it be
that the molecules of all the departed
are then gathered into new life?

This is the mystery.
This is the greatest mystery we know.
May our whole beings be filled with awe
at the mystery of life.

Blessed be.

Small Things

I praise you, O Mother-Father Gaia,
in all your small things

In your uncurling miniature ferns
In your coin-sized frogs
In your water insects with oars that speed them
to the bottoms of the pools

I praise your ruby-throated hummingbird
and your snail the size of a grain of wheat
I praise the ants that clear out their burrows
within hours of the rain
I praise the emerald raindrops
caught in feathery moss

I praise your jeweled spiderweb
and its striped weaver
I praise the blue moths
decorating the air

I praise these two small hands
You have given me,
and these feet:

I will use them to serve you
and praise you
forever and ever


Young Summer

Spirit of Life, Mystery beyond Mystery:

The wheel of the year has turned again
and now we welcome young Summer.

Change is all around us and within us.
Friends and loved ones are on the move:
some are arriving, some are leaving;
some are ill, others recovering;
some are altogether gone.

When change becomes wearying,
when we feel we can’t keep up,
may we rest in the beauty of the world.

May we love the long blue days
and the warm rainy days.

May we love the red cardinal
and the green ferns,
the fragrance of roses
and the taste of fresh strawberries,
the face of the person to our right
and the face of the person to our left.

May we love them all the more knowing
we and they are all ephemeral parts
of one great living breathing changing whole.

May we rest in that whole,
knowing how greatly we are loved.

Blessed be.