Friday, June 27, 2014

The steward of small things

THE LOVELY, WILD SCENT OF RAIN is wafting in the window on a south wind.

Rain. Lots of it. The rainiest year on record. Mosquitoes attack in wispy swarms. Even in full sun! I'm marked with welts, even a couple of kid-like scabs on my ankles (bony spots are usually itchiest).

Scratching insect bites: An ancient summer ritual.

(Just now, a tiny red spider crawls in wavering circles across my screen, searching for a smell, a texture, an object she recognizes. I lose her for a second when I look away but eventually find her on the table. She is escorted to a leaf outside.)

In April, I brought home two native chokecherries, knowing they're beloved by birds. Then I learned that chokecherry's leaves, stems, bark and seeds—every part but its fruit—contain cyanide. Poison to mammals, like my little cat, who is allowed in the back yard. So the seedlings stayed in their containers on my back porch as I fostered them, pondering where their true home should be.

In a wild field not far away, in the sun in an open spot amid the flowering clovers, trefoil, daisies and fleabane, I planted them today. 

I cleared the stones from around their roots, but they're on their own now. My wish is that they send their roots deep into that long-ago prairie soil and thrive, growing fruit for hungry feathered creatures to feast upon, making their home again on lands where they once grew.

Full summer snuck up on me. It was a surprise, like rounding a curve the other day and catching sight of a doe lit by morning sunlight, grazing in grasses high as her back, in the place above the river where the wild turkeys like to strut.

Driving to work. Rounding a curve. Ordinary. But then: heart-singing beauty. 

Like that. 

This moment was shaped like a bowl, as a bowl is shaped like a lake and a lake reflects the sky, and in its it hollow it held a handful of exquisitely ripe raspberries, with raspberry ice cream. Juicy with all that rain, sugared by rare days of hot sun, throbbing with life and summer. 

A body-shivering deliciousness: this is living. 

An overpowering feeling: this is a gift. 

Earth our home, let me thank you for the care you take of me. With such generosity and love you feed us, sustain us, delight us and fill us with joy. 

In reciprocity, I make this offering into your rich, dark, life-giving hands: Two small chokecherries. 

I commend these green spirits to you and place them in your care. 

Make them to flourish upon your breast, let them be part of the unending tale of wonder you tell. 

Of how you provide for all, for free. 

Of how each creature and each growing thing depends on your generosity. 

Of how there is a difference between taking what has been offered and taking what has not. And that the difference begins with gratitude.

With this offering, I give thanks. 

An abundance of gifts come your way.

Towers of bright clouds piled high in a blue sky. 

The glowing red of ripe raspberries, halfway between crimson and rose petal.  

The flashing flight of a blackbird past your window. 

Five bronze bells ringing noon from high on the hill every day—until one day, the chords suddenly cast soft white petals over your heart. 


It's like this: So many things that matter can't be planned or scheduled. Can't be corralled or orchestrated, dissected or predicted or codified. 

You may just look up, or listen, or sniff the wind, and there it is. 

Freely given.

Please recognize and accept these gifts.

Yes, they're intentional.

They were made for you. 


  1. So beautiful. I am always rather silenced in wonder by your posts and although I want to leave a comment to thank you, my words limp forth. Thank you for sharing your words and your lovely heart with us. It's inspiring.

    1. Thank you so much for that kindness. And for sharing your exquisite words and photographs with us! A gift economy of thoughts and words, shared with all willing to receive.


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