October 2010

The prayer of the heart is not garrulous.
It listens in silence, expectant.
If, as so many of the mystics said,
the creation is the primary revelation,
then it is when we listen
to what is
that we hear the voice of God...

‘The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible,’ said Oscar Wilde. And indeed the smallest insect is more worthy of our astonishment than a thousand choirs of angels. The buzzing business of a single cell is more infused with eternity than any disembodied soul. Even as I write, a flurry of activity is going on in every cell of my body. Tiny protein-based ‘motors’ crawl along the strands of DNA, transcribing the code into single-strand RNA molecules, which in turn provide the templates for building the many proteins that are my body’s warp and weft. Other proteins help pack DNA neatly into the nuclei of cells and maintain the tidy chromosome structures. Still other protein-based ‘motors’ are busily at work untying knots that form in DNA as it is unpacked in the nucleus of a cell and copied during cell division. Others are in charge of quality control, checking for accuracy and repairing errors. Working, spinning, ceaselessly weaving, winding, unwinding, patching repairing – each cell like a bustling factory of a thousand workers. A trillion cells in my body humming with the business of life…

To say that it is all chemistry doesn’t demean life; rather, it suggests that the fabric of the world is charged with potentialities of a most spectacular sort…

Many of us seem to believe that anything we can understand cannot be worth much, and therefore – most especially – we resist the scientific understanding of self. But the ability to know is the measure of our human uniqueness, the thing that distinguishes us from the other animals. Understanding the machinery of the spirit does not mean that we will ever encompass with our science the rich detail of an individual human life, or the infinitude of ways by which a human brain interacts with the world. Science is a map of the world; it is not the world itself. Nature loves to hide, said Heraclitus, those thousands of years ago. He also said, ‘You could not discover the limits of soul, not even if you traveled down every road. Such is the depth of its form.’

— Chet Raymo, When God is Gone, Everything is Holy; The Making of a Religious Naturalist


Learning to live in the moment
is an ancient spiritual practice
that has been rediscovered
for our multi-tasking,
Learning to live in the moment
is indeed a great stress-reducer.
And it is so much more.
It helps us find our deepest, truest selves
and the Source of life and love.
Next Saturday,
November 6,
from 9 am. to 5 p.m.
here at Turtle Rock Farm
we offer a retreat
that teaches this spiritual practice.
You can see the details
and register on our website.
Click on our calendar of workshops and retreats
and scroll down to November 6
for the details.
Give us a call if you want to register,
as time is drawing close.


Morning Sky 22 October 2010

A photograph never captures
the sky in the morning
as Earth rolls over
and reveals Sun.
For one thing,
I am rarely up watching
the process unfold,
at first light,
which arrives imperceptibly
even when I am sitting in the dark
On the most colorful mornings,
the light and color change
in five second intervals.
The color grows strong
and then as we get close to seeing
the sun
it fades
in the brilliant
expanse of golden light.
There is no way for me
to capture that in a photograph.
Only one second
is captured in the lens.
As beautiful as it may be,
there is nothing,
no image,
no word
that can express
the growing expanse of brilliance and beauty
that awakens
in the watcher.

Morning Sky 25 October 2010


I didn’t even notice
for a long time
that Maizey
is loyal to me.
She’s a very needy dog.
When you are stopped,
sitting or standing,
she silently appears at your side –
everyone’s side, eventually –
and raises her paw
and lowers it onto your leg or arm
asking for you to pet her.
She is relentless.
Even if you pet her
a long time,
when you stop
you get pawed again
if you’re sitting or standing in a group
and petting her,
when you stop
she moves on to the next person.
Because she is so needy for affection,
I never thought of her
as giving.

The first time I saw her eyes
shine in my car lights
from the middle of the road
in front of the house
as I returned home at night
it seemed that she was and her son Joe
were waiting for me.
How arrogant of me,
I thought.
But they’re usually in the road waiting
when I return home at night.
When I’m outside on the porch,
she curls up in a chair beside me
or on the floor near me.
when I went out to write on the porch
she and Joe were resting in the wicker chairs.
I stood before them and asked that one of them move.
Without my moving toward either of them,
Maizey climbed down from the chair
and moved to another at the other end of the porch.
When we take walks,
Joe runs ahead to explore
and though Maizey used to,
but she doesn’t anymore.
Instead, she stays right beside me as we walk
and when I stop to explore or observe
she waits.
She attends to me silently
and in these circumstances
she doesn’t ask to be petted.
She just waits,
I suspect it was she
who brought one of the chickens she and Joe killed –
my favorite chicken
although I don’t know how she could know that –
over to my house to show me
that she’s a good bird dog.

Of late,
I have realized that this aging, graying mamma dog
who was dropped on the farm years ago
before I returned to live here
is loyal to me.
Maybe she’s taken on the role as companion
that was vacated
when Kye died.
I am deeply grateful
that she has become my caring friend.

Our Shadows

This weather is perfect
and has been this way for weeks,
so unusual for Oklahoma.
Yesterday afternoon,
I took a long walk
down the road,
across the prairie
where, indeed, a red-tail hawk
was making circles in a bright blue sky,
and the cottonwood leaves were doing their
exquisite dance in the breeze;
then up to the “oil blossom”
(the little mesa along Doe Creek.)


There’s a Granddaddy Long Legs

I found my sit spot,
on a moss-and-lichen-encrusted flat stone
and just looked around
while the dogs,
Joe and Maizey

A few leaves are turning,
yellow and orange,
and falling;
the cedars are loaded with blue-gray berries,
while the sunflowers are blooming
I sat in my sit spot
just watching
small grasshoppers,
a Grandaddy Long Legs,
a bronze Caterpillar,
a Blue Jay.
Joe’s and Maizey’s persistent barking
piqued my curiosity
and I rose
to find them trying to get at something
under a large rock.

Back along the creek,
across the prairie,
alongside the old cemetery
where Mockingbird,
atop a cedar
Such familiar territory,
and yet
there are changes,
For one thing,
so many
perfect days.




Raking hay on a rough slope,
when I was about sixteen,
I drove to the ridgetop and saw
in a neighbor’s field on the other side
a pond in a swale, and around it
the whole field filled
with chicory in bloom, blue
as the sky reflected in the pond —
bluer even, and somehow lighter,
though they belonged to gravity.
They were the morning’s
blossoms and would not last.
But I go back now in my mind
to when I drew the long windrow
to the top of the rise, and I see
the blue-flowered field, holding
in its center the sky-reflecting pond.
It seems, as then, another world
in this world, such as a pilgrim
might travel days and years
to find, and find at last
on the morning of his return
by his mere being at home
awake – a moment seen, forever known.

— Wendell Berry, “1994. V” in The Timber Choir


Comes a gentle rain.
I move the Boston fern from the front porch
out into the rain
and, as the wind is not blowing the rain much,
I take a moment to sit on the porch
and listen to the dripping,
the soft soothe of rain on the tin barn
where, suddenly,
the Guineas are raising a ruckus.
Donning boots and jacket,
I move myself
out to the barn
to check on rabbits and hen and Guineas.
They’re sharing space now
and doing all the exploring
and testing,
making the thumping, pecking, growling, cackling
statements to each other
that creatures do when they first meet
and figure out how to live together.
Little Red Hen
pecked at Jolie this morning
when I opened all the gates,
but Jolie held her own,
once dashing right between Little Red Hen’s legs.

The rain on tin is loud in the barn
and Guineas are pacing on straw bales
atop the rabbit pen
when I arrive,
then fly down into the bigger pen
where rabbits can’t go.
Everyone seems fine.

I return to the porch
as the skies darken
and there is thunder,
far off to the East.
The air chills a bit
and the rain seems to be coming down harder.
I hear Little Red Hen
raising a ruckus now.
I leave them be
and as a kitten scurries from barn
to porch,
I just breathe,
let myself be
and listen
to the rain.
there is a commotion
and Joe races across the yard.
I go again to the barn
but everyone’s fine.
Then I get a call from my sister
that the blue tractor needs to be moved into the round-top barn.
I move the tractor
and in the process see how much wonderful rain water
is flowing off the downspout of my house
into the flower bed.
I feel an urgency to capture it.
Why hasn’t this ever bothered me this much before?
Getting more and more soaked,
I manage an engineering feat
unlike me
but realize even this clever entrapment
is only going to catch
a limited amount.
I bring the buckets out to catch more
and vow to order a rain barrel

I’m soaked to the skin
and reluctant
to come in
out of the rain.

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