Sunday, October 30, 2011

Song from Quaker Silent Meeting

"Teach me to stop and listen,
Teach me to center down,
Teach me the use of silence,
Teach me where peace is found.
Teach me to hear your calling.
... Teach me to search your word,
Teach me to hear in silence,
Things I have never heard.
Teach me to be collected,
Teach me to be in tune.
Teach me to be directed,
.....Silence will end so soon.
then when it's time for moving,
Grant it that I may bring,
To every day and moment
Peace from a silent spring."

Words and music: Ken Medema

Friday, October 14, 2011

To Watch the Leaves Turn

"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn." Elizabeth Lawrence. The leaves are turning. Autumn is passing with lightning speed, or so it seems to me. The moments of my life and the scenery around me are continuously colliding and changing into the next color, the next texture, and the next pattern. Like a rotating kaleidoscope the seasons are a succession of symmetrical designs but instead of patterns coming from mirrors reflecting colored glass, the scenes are composed of sunlight and shadow and tumbling leaves.

I can’t keep up with the ever-evolving scenery happening right in my own back yard. Already the Buckeyes are plunging out of their seed caskets when I touch a branch of the tree. The Euonymus bush outside my window sheds her red leaves and the Blackhaw begins to do the same while the mockingbird starts his wintry habit of seeking out the Dogwood berries. I just want to tell somebody to stop rotating the kaleidoscope! Just hold it still for one moment so I can catch my breath, and focus on just one thing for a second, please.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

September's Dusk

I read a card from a friend the other day and it said, “nurture yourself through connection to the earth in order to give freely without exhaustion." that is so true for me. Yesterday after nine hours of nurturing the four year old and the one year old, I found myself running out to the gate just to get a glimpse of the sky to keep my spirits going.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Owl of Dusk

In February, if I listen, I can sometimes hear the mating call of what is most commonly known as the Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio) resounding through the vanishing light of dusk. It is a quivering, haunting trill that sounds distant yet I know the ventriloquist is only as far away as the blue spruce tree right outside our kitchen door. I don’t know how this owl got stuck with the common name, screech owl. His vocal contribution is anything but a screech. Perhaps a screech can be heard from him occasionally but that would be like naming us Cough because from time to time we cough.

Whoever slapped this name on him must have been jealous of the musical whisperings of this owl of many names. Known as Little Horned Owl, Shivering Owl, Mottled Owl and Cat Owl he is the most common of Ohio owls and can be found throughout the entire eastern half of the United States.

Small and adaptable, this owl puts up with humans, sharing our world, while hiding under the shadow of dusk and dawn.
I can understand why in days of old people were afraid of this secretive dweller, which moves in seemingly silent flight. Imagine what it was like hearing the otherworldly cries of the Screech Owl when you didn’t know what they were. If something from the spirit world were to develop a voice, this reverberating, seemingly multi-dimensional rendering of the Dusk Owl could be it.

At times the owl will give out it’s tones from the hollowed chambers of the old trees that it nestles in which greatly affects the ‘spookiness” of the sound. How eerie not to know the source and to hear THAT echoing coming out of the woods just as the light of day was leaving and the dark of night was moving in. This tiny creature (not over nine inches in length) has sent many a shiver down many a human spine.

I grew up hearing the old folklore that if you heard an owl in the middle of the day someone you knew was sure to pass away. One of my daughters when she was a little girl, despite all my explaining, would insist the owl we listened to as we walked home down our lane, was a ghost. Many of our ancestors would have agreed with her as they called this bird of the night such names as Ghost Owl, Spirit Owl and Whickering Owl.

A Whickering Owl was the last thing you wanted about your property, as everyone knew they were possessed by witches and were there to steal your baby’s soul. It seems this fear of the silent flyer of the night was the tradition in many cultures the world over. With their strange sounds, huge eyes and silent wings, the owl was surely set loose from the spirit world.

These days we know the Screech Owl as an innocent woodland creature. It was only our imaginations and run-away fears that were scary. We now realize that although the screech owl is a bird of prey it feeds not on human souls but on creatures such as insects, mice and moles. I am glad through understanding we no longer fear the owl but can instead appreciate its beauty and complexity.

One night when I had trouble sleeping because fears for my family and the world wouldn’t let me sleep I got up, put on my coat and walked outside where I looked over snow covered fields set aglow by the full March Moon. The night was so still and crisp and beautiful that I yearned to take off walking in the moonlight.

I stayed close to the hearth but my heart went soaring when I realized I was not the only creature awake. The tremulous trill of my little friend Dusk Owl was echoing through the valley and not only that but he was chorusing alongside answering echoes of a higher pitch. A warm feeling of well being enveloped me as I realized I was listening to the sweet fiddling melodies of a lover’s duet. I wished them the best and thanked them in my heart for the blessing of their unforgettable song. I prayed they had found a good old woodpecker’s nest box or a nice hollow tree to roost in and that there would always and forever be Dusk Owls to serenade moonlit skies.

Dear Lord. Help me to realize that sometimes I make up frightening stories in my head about things or situations because I don’t understand. Help me to remember that sometimes what I see as scary wouldn’t be if I had more knowledge. Help me remember that you see the whole picture and you understand everything and the whole world, even the little Dusk Owl, is in your hands. Amen

And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with precious and pleasant riches. Proverbs 24:4

The Apiary in February

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Goodby September

For spiritual nourishment I am soaking up autumn. Once I read from an old book a rhyme referring to autumn and it said something like, “Sudden to arrive, sudden to leave”. If autumn leaves as swiftly as it arrived, it will be long gone before I know it gets here. Already the Harvest Moon rose orange and luminous to distract our attention while September slinked away. I always lose track of the moons when they turn to their cold sides so I looked the next full moon up in The Farmer’s Almanac and what is known as the Hunter Moon or Moon of the Falling Leaves, will brighten our evening skies on October 11, 2011.

Time to gather the late crops because we need to stock up on orange this time of year until we get enough of it to last all winter long. Orange pumpkins, leaves, peaches, moons, sweet potatoes, persimmons, sun-rays, sprays of bittersweet, marigolds and the first orange fires in the woodstove, they all contain a vitamin that is good for the soul, I am sure of it. No, I didn’t want to part with golden September but she is gone. She has blown her kisses and moved on. Dreading sad and weary November, I am thankful for brave October. He opens his mouth with joy and exclamation. Perhaps he will remind me to be in the moment, to spend less time sighing for yesterday or fretting tomorrow.