Friday, December 31, 2010

holy places

I just came back from a brief walk in the undeveloped subdivision next to ours.Five years ago they cleared the field,put in a road and then,nothing happened.I wish you could see how tall the bronze grass is and the acres of Loblolly pines that have sprung up.It's peaceful;bird song and the waving grass is all you hear.

As I neared the end of my walk, this thought came,"I should write about the holy places in my life:places where I have received insight,felt extraordinary love,places of unimaginable co-incidences."And so I will do that and in the doing I will be blessed again.

It is not always in chapels that these things happen but they occur there too.As examples let me list some of them:

-The Painted Desert

-my sister's hospital room

-the labyrinth at a retreat house in Still Point, New York

-a side chapel at the Basilica of St.Clare in Assisi.

-the snow covered trees behind my house.

These are a few places.Perhaps by reading about this, you may think of your own or start looking for them.This visible world is a sacred place and the invisible world is so close to it that only the thickness of a butterfly's wing separates the two.

Hnag on,it's going to be a bumpy ride !

Saturday, December 11, 2010

tenderness of trees

This writing is about questions that have no answers.

In the early 70s ,we lived in Aurora,Colorado,a suburb east of Denver.I missed so many things I had left behind.Maple trees were the greatest lost after family and friends.

Where I grew up on Long Island, the streets were lined with maples.We grew up together.Whatever I knew of beauty, I learned from them.The soft snow resting on filigreed limbs,the reds,yellows and oranges of Fall that we tried to hold in paraffin wax,the first light green buds of spring.Especially, I remember the corner lamppost shining through the green summer leaves.Magic.

Denver is on the Great Plains and trees there are almost non-existent.You have to go West to the mountains to see pines and aspen.However, down on the plain there were cottonwoods that grew along the High Line Canal, east of the city,that is feed by water from the South Platte river.They were not maples,not as full and a lighter green but they stood grandly ,following the canal and they were treasured by tree lovers.As I would drive by,they would give me pleasure.

One night, a chain saw came out and in darkness,a resident cut down the ones that blocked his view of the peaks,it is assumed.All of Denver mourned.The canal now has a 66 mile green space next to it for recreation and I am sure the trees are legally protected but then the vandalism went unchecked.

I thought of this when a friend sent an article describing another travesty,this time in England.

Thursday morning the people of Glastonbury woke up as usual,put on their whistling tea kettles and looked up to Wearyall hill and the Thorn Tree that grows there high above their houses.The tree was planted in 1951 from the roots of a tree that sprung from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea stuck in the ground 2000 years ago in this town.

A thorn tree lives for about 100 years and so the locals keep planting sprigs to keep the tree going, all from the same root and it is from antiquity. The tree is a site for pilgrims and is the anchor,the surety of the small town.

Each year a branch is cut from the tree and sent to the Queen to rest on her Christmas table and she always send a thank-you note.Continuity.History.

Thursday morning the tree was no more.In the dark,someone had cut off all the branches and left them around the tree.And the people look up at the absence.

This reminds me of the New Yorkers who could see Manhattan from their homes in Brooklyn,the Bronx and other points.They look over now and the skyline is off, not balanced and they remember.The sheer waste and pointless destruction.Still.

There is a lack in some human hearts,a hatred that springs from a misalignment with the Creator.These are the people who torture cats or cut trees for the malice of it.Or take down towers because they can.

Where is the tenderness?The gratitude.

The thorn tree in England has been cut before by dolts and cowards who come at night.But I have this vision of April 25,2011.The townspeople are walking up the hill with strollers;old people are coming with walkers,girls with daisy chains on their flaxen hair and boys on bikes will come and stand around the tree.And then Life will reveal what it is.Pushing out green,renewing, regenerating as it always does.And the crowd in the hushed air will look down and see the new sprouts and start to clap and the applause will build.Maybe we should do this every time we see a new bud or a sprout that we don't deserve.