You… Shining (A Prayer for Yom Kippur)

Great Spirit of Life, Mysterious energy
that moves in and through all things:

Our old unwanted thoughts and habits
lie underfoot like the old leaves
that now begin to fall
on your hillsides.
We may have needed them once,
but no more.

Send the sweet rain
of Your love and compassion
that these old things
may be transformed
into rich soil for new growth.

And as feathery moss awakens
to the touch of rain,
and sends out new, seeking tendrils,
may we be made so fresh, and alive, and alert,
that when we look into each other’s faces
we see… You, shining.

Amen.

If That Is Not Love

You say you have not known love…
but have you not seen the heron
landing on her stilt legs in the clear water
and did she not let you come closer than last time
before lifting her great wings and flying away?

What of the double rainbow you saw
over the ocean,
or the time the two young otters peered out at you
from underneath a rock,
making contact
on purpose?

Or the time you stood on the ground
with the brilliant sun setting on one side
and the radiant moon rising on the other
and you felt the turning of the earth?

And what of that bright orange
that you peeled to find
sections as if made for your hands
and each full of sweet tart juice
that ran everywhere
when you put it in your mouth?

You were made for this world
and it for you
and that is why, when you see
how the dead brown moss
on boulders and trees
springs to verdant life
at the slightest touch of rain,
you bend down and rub your cheek
ever so gently
across the bright green softness.

If that is not love,
I do not know what is.

How to Remember

The world will give you gifts if you pay attention:

A curl of red madrone bark,
fallen from the shiny surface
of the brilliantly colored tree.

Half of a tiny paper wasps’ nest,
wavy striations of white and gray
painstakingly arranged around a perfect circle.

A bird’s nest woven from pine needles
and lined with grass and lichen and moss.

Acorns whose caps fit exactly so,
each holding within it
the beginning of a giant oak.

A piece of maple bark drilled by woodpeckers,
the holes lined up with perfect precision.

Iridescent blue feathers from a Stellar’s jay,
and bright orange ones from a flicker.

A clump of moss and some blue-gray lichen;
most of the shell of a blue robin’s egg;
an owl pellet with tiny bones in;
bark from a pine and more from an oak,
each vastly different from the other.

If you watch carefully, all of these can be yours—
they land at your feet
every day.

What will you do with them?

Make an altar.

Place each item carefully,
considering its relationship
with all the others.

Each time you walk by,
let your eye land
on one small, perfect thing,
and think of how it was made.

Be astonished.
Be joyful and filled with gladness.

Then you will remember
(then you will re-member)
who you truly are
and why you are here
in this gorgeous and hurting world.

After the rain

After the rain
Blue sky shining
Pine needles shining
Yellow willow branches shining
Water droplets on moss shining
Stones in river shining
Little ripples of water shining
Waterfall on canyon wall shining
Pools of rainwater shining
Tears on my face shining
Everything is shining here