Sunday, July 11, 2010

Snow Geese - July 10., 2010

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
to ask

of anything, or anyone,

yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.

One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was

a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun

so they were, in part at least, golden. I

held my breath
as we do
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us

as with a match,
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,

but delightfully,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.

The geese
flew on,
I have never seen them again.

Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won't.
It doesn't matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

When I lived in El Paso, Texas, every year I attended the Crane Festival up at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. I would camp out as part of my ministerial study and retreat time, a spaciousness I gave myself so that I could return to my congregation seeing the world joyfully and clearly. One week the congregation’s families joined me on a Sunday and we took the children on the wildlife viewing loop. We came to a large flock of snow geese in the field. It had been difficult to tell exactly how engaged the children were or what they were thinking. Then suddenly the snow geese took to the air in a clap of wings and flew right over our group. The children too exploded. Some started jumping up and down, others running under the geese, and all eventually making their way to parents and adults to say, “Did you see that?” There was laughter, glee, and even tears in the children. They didn’t need us to tell them about wonder. It was born into them, and into us to see through the artificial veil of separation, to a life of joy.

What causes you to jump for joy?

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