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.