Monday, July 20, 2009
Reflect with me on one of the most common plants found in the
Tough and Adaptable: Sword Ferns are found as far north as southeast
Balance and Beauty: The Sword Fern has found its way into millions of backyards across western
The Pathway to Silence: Finally, I invite you to consider the Sword Fern as guardians of the forest along the pathways to silence. Though found ubiquitously among many noisy neighborhoods and highways along the western states and provinces, the Sword Fern is also found in the quietest places of tranquility. Gordon Hempton, a sound recordist who has been recording silent places of
1. Sources: http://green.kingcounty.gov/gonative/Plant.aspx?Act=view&PlantID=37; http://bss.sfsu.edu/holzman/courses/fall00projects/swordfern.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polystichum_munitum; http://www.nwplants.com/plants/ferns/pol_mun_index.html
2. For more on Gordon Hempton and ‘One Square Inch of Silence’, see http://onesquareinch.org
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) wrote eloquently on prayer as God’s way of watering the garden of the soul.(1) The first and most difficult way of prayer is drawing water from a well. In this method, prayer is by the bucketful, with the heavy lifting work of ropes, pulleys and sheer muscle power to get the water out of the well and carried to the garden of the soul. The second approach to prayer is through a waterwheel system of irrigation. The initial labor of developing the structures of prayer is labor intensive. Once in place, the wheel is powered by the flow of God’s presence past the waterwheel, bringing refreshment to the soul along the piping of our structured prayer life. According to Teresa, the third way of prayer comes only to those who have been matured through the first two means. A spring bubbles forth within the soul’s garden, bringing spiritual grace into the heart of the garden. Teresa admits this to be “an even better way, because the ground is more fully soaked and it is much less work”. But, it is Teresa’s fourth way of prayer which most moves my soul. Rain. Every blade of grass in our innermost being is touched by the life giving goodness of God. In this way of prayer, God does most of the work. We merely receive. Rain falls upon our lives, like going outside in a summer rainstorm and allowing the gift of grace to shower our lives.
1. Teresa of
Monday, July 6, 2009
In distant lands they will remember me.
They and their children will survive
and they will return.
We arrived on the Isle of Iona, Scotland in the morning fog with silver mist hanging on the white beaches as the ferry made its landing. Heading northward towards the abbey, we stepped along cobblestones through the little island village, past the ruined convent, along the ancient cemetery. It was there next to those gravestones when I saw the bench inviting us to sit and reflect. The wood back was carved with the simple inscription: Rest and Remember: an invitation to the weary traveler’s soul. Sit for a while. Catch your breath. Take a short break. Look out across the silver sea. Watch the day emerge as the sun sparkles in the dew-heavy grass. Rest. Listen as the abbey bells call us to return. Rest and remember.
Remember the year 563, the year Columcille (a.k.a. Columba) arrived from
Remember. Think of the thousands upon ten thousands of travelers coming across oceans, over mountains, by boat, by land, by sea, through the centuries, coming to this island to rest and renew. They keep coming. The day we departed from
Return to the bench called "Remember". Sit here and rest. Watch. Listen. Reflect. Hear the rhythmic song of the sea upon the shores of
Rest and remember. Trace the shoreline northward to the abbey church, rebuilt in the 11th century by the Benedictines after two hundred years of Viking raids had decimated the island population. Walk visually along the path leading from the abbey church to the graveyard, a path known locally as “the Road of the Dead”. Pause for a moment to ponder St. Martin’s high cross, one of the few remaining of the Celtic high crosses on
We travel to distant lands, sometimes simply to sit and remember. We traverse among the ancient stones, along the paths of the dead, to think about those who walked this path before us. In this is we discover once again better how to live and love. In this is our soul’s rest and return.