Sunday Meditations


for Liberal Religious Worship

by Peter Richardson



Grief weighing in the heart brings you
to walk from garden path, to field, to forest,
to feel wind waving leaves overhead
in an otherwise still and deepening silence;
and you must slow to a mindful witness.

You can wonder that the trees are there,
rippling rows of bark,
arching limbs ascending,
twigs gaunt before the green mantle,
whispering, sending shadows shivering,
opening windows of momentary luminous light.

Walking in this darkening
restless standing presence
one question floats through the mind,
"Does the forest know I am here?"
Nothing comes back,
no message breaks through.

The path ends abruptly
in pond rocks and dry oak leaves
against still waters of a secluded pond.
You see sticks in the water and black leaves
swirled into fish nests.
Beyond is only still blackness
with a gray sheen of clouded sky
reflecting forest limbs and leaves.

You sit on a rounded stone,
lean back against roots
and stare at that placid darkness.
You can see no face
smiling out of the depths
of sky or waters.
You find no answer from the depths.
In your breathing there is a catch
of momentary grief and then quiet motion
as a sleepy sheen
clouds your sight
enchants the ear momentarily.

You awaken when rain drops reach your nose,
your arm, your neck.
It is a general rain.
The ground begins to offer up
an odor of humus.
Prickly sounds issue from a placid pond.
While the trees remain silent
lichens stretch outward.

It is time to leave wet rocks
for shelter under the canopy
of dripping leaves and heavy drops.
You keep walking,
abandon all thoughts of dryness
knowing field and garden path lie before you.

In your questions of forest and pond
sky has given you rain.
Pond has offered up sound of raindrops.
Forest has offered down sound of dripping leaves.
Soil has offered odors of dampness.
And all you could give is gratitude
in your surrender to the rain.

Surrender to the rain is all you can do,
surrender entirely, to each drop,
to dampness and dripping wetness.
From garden path, to forest, to pond,
to forest, field and garden path again
there is only surrender,
surrender to the great sky,
surrender to the waters,
abandoning all pretense, all privilege,
surrendering all grief to gratitude,
all questions to a path through the forest
and when grief flows into gratitude,
to be washed clean in rain.

from Sunday Meditations, pp. 59-60

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