CONSOLATION PRIZES THAT DON’T COLLECT DUST

For those that enter beauty pagaents, writing contests, or sports competitions,  receiving the consolation prize is a sign that you are some kind of a runner up.  There was a winner and they won the grand prize. All the others prizes may represent a good effort or recognize the great performance, but are really an attempt to ease the blow of well, losing. 

How different the prizes of consolation are for us when they present themselves amid and after the inevitable losses in life.  To be awarded consolation in its many guises after grief, rejection, emotional exhaustion is to know the sweetest balm.  While these salves can be as simple as a stranger’s smile, they are often times a reawakening of our senses to the world around us.  In The Sinner’s Almanac,  Taufiq Khalil writes these verses in “Audacity No. 127”: “The dew on the grass in early morning makes me happy. The puddle of water left by the evening rain makes me merry.  The Sun glimering behind a green canopy keeps me cheery.  And God is most pleased with those who smile Whatever the hour Who have the audacity to be happy When all life seems sour”.

There is the gift of a  morning when the heavy hurt you carried like lead for a time too long gives way to the sunshine in a way that no longer mocks your inner atmosphere. The warmth on your face and the sound of the chickadee whose great great great grandparents once sung outside your nursery window is calling you to attention, to be attentive, to attend.

The prolific Pultizer Prize winning poet (yes, she did win a grand prize) Mary Oliver understood well how the Sacred and Holy are embued in Nature, that the possibility of a Kairos moment (meaning the right or opportune moment) is ever beckoning. She asks that we lay our burdens at the altar of heartbeating Life in her poem Wild Geese:

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, over the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are flying home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

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WORSHIP

Today’s word of the day is worship.  It comes from roots of words sprung from the West Saxon and Anglican languages (very close in their etymology) meaning the condition or state (ship) of being worthy, of having honor or merit (worth).  It a primarily used as a verb and involves action.   Traditionally, we think of worship as a noun/verb.  It is something we engage in on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday mornings (depending on our faith) and is something we go to (noun) and do things at (verb).  Worship is usually segregated in our minds to the religious aspect of our lives, communicating about God with other like minded souls.

This notion of worship is good.  It allows us for the continuity of rituals and theological language that may have been a part of our family for generations.  It may be the vocabulary of words for God and talk about God that we have waited for our whole lives, that before this time may have seemed elusive to us. We may feel like we have finally come home.

Sharing our own ideas about God with others and finding that this God that we are talking about is worthy of our time, devotion, effort… and love, can only enrich the Giver and the Receiver, those that hear the words and those that speak them.       

Yet, so much that is beyond our immediate control is worthy of our devotion or at the very least, our recogntion. With the daily reminders of new life sprung from dormant earth in the blessings we call early spring, I join with a multitude of others in nature worshipping.  The forsythias, the daffodils, cherry blossoms, dogwoods, apple blossoms, lilacs, pansies, jonquils, and the bright, bright green on the buds of all variety of trees are worthy of my wonder, my gratitude, and my belief in the continued promise of rebirth  when all seems dark and gray and colorless.

Yesterday in the early morning hours, I was driving past one of the most beautiful farms in all of New England (that declaration must be so) and there was this mist lying low, formed in response from the cold early air and warm ground.

I have been driving past this property almost every day for close to two decades and its ability to inspire has not waned in the least. The light streamed through with celestial rays and even though my children thought I was completely a “noob”  at this moment, I was giddy with worship.

I would like to conclude with a poem that I wrote in 2006:

Saltonstall Farm

God is not a secret/Tucked away in a special person, distant place or thing/Exotic and ethereal/Turn left, make a right, follow due east after the fork.

Instead, wonder everyday in this…

Green Green Green/Ever and spring and sage and pea./ Sprawling fields/Busily breeding/Open to all.

White farmhouse/rambling/black shutters/red barn/A silo/battered tin roof/America’s  young antiquity, new england.

Bovine beauties and their babies/Perennially bask against this bucolic backdrop/Chocolate and cream/Doe-eyed and docile/Sticking together/Telling the weather.

Turkeys race back and forth, back and forth/Zigzagging the country road/Can’t decide…gobble gobble gobble/Which way…gobble gobble gobble/To go…so like us/Imperfect, indecisive; but still moving.

Neat rows of cornstalks line up/Good little soldiers/Giving life for life./The trees, acres of them, pine and oak, maple and birch, frame the scene.

One lone elm sits deep in the middle of the field/Shades the cows, flaunts its splendor.

At Christmas time, lights dress its empty branches/Clothing its nakedness, clad in white light/ Glad tidings for the harried, the weary; the traveler. 

And in the morning, a cool mist hovers low and mysterious over the land.

And in the evening, the moon rises high, casting shadows, sculpting all like a bas relief.

And Always, whispers between created and Creator.