“A Glimpse of the Underglimmer”
You can see it sometimes in October
when the sun’s low angle slides
gold over the field,
effervescence of light,
or you stand in a forest of cedars
and March rain pads
hundreds of tiny feet across
the emerald canopy,
or the fireflies of July form
new constellations, then vanish
into summer’s night leaving only
trails of light in your memory,
or you stand in a May meadow,
a fox crosses quietly, you hold
still as possible, the sliver of moon
above holds its breath with you.
—Christine Valters Paintner, The Wisdom of Wild Grace
(Click here to see three new poems of mine published online)
Dearest monks and artists,
Happy Easter dear monks, pilgrims, and artists! I hope that this day finds you experiencing a hint of resurrection in your lives.
Lent is a powerful season of transformation. Forty days in the desert, stripped of our comforts, and buoyed by our commitment to daily practice so that we might arrive at the celebration of Easter deepened and renewed. In many ways this Lent was far more austere than any of us anticipated.
Often, we arrive at the glorious season of resurrection and celebrate for that one day, forgetting it is a span of 50 days, even longer than the Lenten season through which we just travelled. Easter is not just the day when the tomb was discovered empty, but a span of time when days grow longer in the northern hemisphere, blossoms burst forth, and we are called to consider how we might practice this resurrection in our daily lives.
The soul's journey through Lent is like a pilgrimage exploring inner desert places, landscapes, thresholds, and the experience of exile. Ultimately, pilgrimage always leads us back home again with renewed vision. Resurrection is about discovering the home within each one of us, remembering that we are called to be at home in the world, even as we experience ourselves exiled again and again.
The liturgical year, however, is not a linear passage of time. It is cyclical and spiral, returning to previous moments with new vision. It is the heart of kairos time, which is time outside of time.
And in this model of time moving in spirals, it means that even though we move into the radiant season of Easter, we do not leave behind the invitations of the desert or the call of grief. To be human means to hold all of these layers together.
As a poet, when I am asked what I write about most often, my response is that for me poetry helps me to be present to a world where terrible things happen and where amazing things happen, sometimes all at once. The grief, the loss, the unknowing, the fear of what is to come, they are all real. The gratitude, the kindness, the caring, the wonder at simple moments, they are all real as well.
The Gospel readings during the Easter season are about the resurrection appearances of Jesus: Thomas doubts and needs to touch Jesus' wounds; the nets that were empty are pulled ashore overflowing with fish; the disciples on the road to Emmaus recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread; Jesus breathes on them the gift of the Spirit; and of course the celebration of breath and fire at Pentecost when everyone was most afraid of what was to come. In all of these stories, there is a sense of generosity and abundance, of caring for needs, and of finding solace and assurance in the wounds. Perhaps these are just the stories we need for these times.
During these dark days of uncertainty, I have been making room for grief. Music and movement become the container for my sorrow. But I have also been making room for laughter and connection with others (even if it needs to be by Zoom).
The truth of resurrection isn’t that we hold onto some false banner of hope, denying the reality around us. Resurrected life means we know our woundedness as a place where grace can also enter in.
The poem and video I share above are about finding these moments of grace – or sometimes more accurately, letting those moments find us. It takes time to open ourselves to the resurrection of the world at work all around us.
Where are you discovering your own glimpses of the underglimmer?
Please join me in practicing resurrection. . .
Tomorrow I start two different online programs. The first is Sacred Time: Embracing an Intentional Way of Life which is an 8-week companion journey through my book Sacred Time (Ave Maria Press). If you would like to explore a more spacious relationship to time and cultivate practices that help you touch the eternal moment more often, please join us for a journey from the breath to cosmic time (moving through Hours of the day, Sabbath, lunar cycles, seasonal rhythms, seasons of a lifetime, and ancestral time along the way). I will host a weekly live session (always recorded) and there will be invitations in reflection, meditation, creative expression, and connecting with kindred spirits.
The other program I am starting tomorrow is Sky, Sun, Sea, and Stone: Celtic Spirituality and Creative Writing which is hosted by the Rowe Center. Through four weekly live sessions (always recorded), I will offer some teaching about how the four elements of air, fire, water, and earth can inspire our creativity, and especially how these elements are at work in the Celtic imagination. Then I will take you on a creative pilgrimage through the gifts of poetry and invite you to write your own poems to respond. There is also an option for sharing in small breakout groups. If you participated in The Spiral Way in February, the format will be very similar but the content is all new.
With great and growing love,
PS – I have three poems published in the newest online issue of Impspired Magazine! Click the link to read "Where has the wild woman gone?", "Ludwig" (about being related to Ludwig Wittgenstein), and "A Letter to My Adolescent Self." All 3 poems will be included in a third collection titled Seventy-Two Names for Love being published next year by Paraclete Press.
Video credit: Poetry Video by Morgan Creative