Tag Archives: nature


Getting away to the lake,

watching the sun rise and set

over calm water,

walking along the shore,

collecting stones.

Three ducklings entertain us as they stray and

then return at their mother’s call.

Dark clouds gather along the horizon and

the winds pick up.

We watch as the rain approaches.

There is nothing to be done but watch and

wait for the sun to return.

It is good to be here, resting.

On retreat–the bear got poked

Some years, my week-long silent retreats are days of rest, prayer, meditative walks and feeling God’s presence. Other years, some old wound in need of healing is revealed. This year’s retreat was the latter.

On the fourth night, I attended a Healing Service. The presider talked about the difference between being cured (disease is gone) and healed (disease is still there but attitude toward the disease is transformed).

He talked about holding grudges and how doing so is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

None of this was new to me.

Then he shared a story from his university days in Europe, and I felt resentful. “Lucky you,” I thought, and then I remembered that I had gone to Spain when I was in college. Why would I resent his time in Europe? It made no sense.

That night, I had a dream—one I had had before—about not knowing my place, about overstepping my bounds.

“The bear got poked,” I told my spiritual director.

I told her how I noticed my resentment during the healing service and how it had surprised me. And then I started to cry. Tears from some deep place, pouring out as if a scab had been ripped away from a wound.

I try to pay attention to when I am angry, and I try not to hold grudges. So how had I not noticed that my snide comments and eye-rolls were a sign of resentment or envy?

My director talked about how grudges can come from old hurts that seemingly have nothing to do with the current situation. She suggested I reflect on hurtful events from my past and try to get some distance from my emotional entanglements to them.

That night, I saw three deer walking along the edge of the woods. Deer are a sign for me of God’s presence, and in that moment, I felt comforted in the reminder that God is with me on this journey.

The next day, I walked to the wetlands and just as I was about to sit down on the dock, I noticed two deer about twenty feet away, partially hidden by the brown reeds. They looked at me but did not run. I sat down and watched them. 

After a few minutes, they disappeared into the woods.

I remembered my walk through the woods my first day of retreat and how the undergrowth made the woods seem impenetrable. Yet the deer we able to enter.

I took a walk through the woods and felt that God was inviting me to look again at the undergrowth, but with a softened gaze so I could see beyond what appeared to be a mess—like those optical illusions that require soft eyes to see the hidden picture.  

With soft eyes, I can see that the deer are hiding in plain sight.

With soft eyes, I can see that God, too, is right in front of me, desiring to heal my wounds.

The lodger

A lodger moved in a few weeks ago

and every day I watch her comings and goings.

Most of the time she sits,

but occasionally she flits away to get something to eat.

When I walk by,

she darts to the other side of the yard,

perches on the fence

and waits for me to go inside,

as though she is startled by my presence,

as though she has forgotten that I live here too.

Each time she leaves, her mate swoops in and

stands on the edge of the nest,

hovering but never sitting,

waiting for her return,

standing guard over their unborn.

Arriving at the wetlands

The Canada geese announce their arrival

as though they were royalty.

Clear the path; here we come.

No matter the time of morning or

whether you are trying to sleep in,

they are not to be ignored.

Honking, honking, honking.

And once they land,

they yammer at one another.

Come here.

No, you come here.

While the deer creep silently at dawn and dusk,

preferring you not notice their presence.

Stealth is their way.

Spot us if you can, they seem to say.

How will I announce myself?

At the edge of the wetlands

From my perch on the dock

at the edge of the wetlands,

I watched three hawks circle overhead,

gliding, then swooping,

then flapping their wings before another glide.

What could they see from so high above the treetops?

Did they notice even the slightest movement?

Were they somehow signaling to one another?

Mouse by the maple tree.

Chipmunk on the fallen branch.

They flew in unison,

as if they had rehearsed,

as if they were putting on a synchronized show.

Round and round they went,

gliding and flapping,

seeming to be in no hurry at all,

never coming to ground,

content to be aloft.

And then they flew away.

I waited for them to return,

but after a while,

I gave up.

I don’t have the patience of a hawk.

The path

Walking the trail through the woods,

leaves cushion my steps and gently rustle

as I make my way.

The sound takes me back to childhood,

to autumns long past,

walking to school through fallen leaves,

shuffling my feet to scatter them.

Lost in that memory,

the sound of a twig snapping underfoot

startles me.

I jump and apologize,

as if the twig were still alive

and I had somehow injured it.

But the twig had already been broken in its fall.

Like the leaves, its life has been given over to cover the ground,

to soften the way and

to call out to me to pay attention to my path.