Tag Archives: cosmos

Creation Poems: Wendell Berry


The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming, whose hands reach into the ground and sprout,

to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death yearly, and comes back rejoicing.He has seen the light lie down in the dung heap,and rise again in the corn.

His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.What miraculous seed has he swallowed that the enending sentence of his love flows out of his mouthlike a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water descending in the dark?…

Spiritual Retreat: Home Again

For the previous few days,  I posted a series of journal entries I made on a retreat last winter.  Every six months I try and take a few days away to regroup and focus on one spiritual master.  Last year, it was The Cloud of Unknowing.


Day 4: Home Again

I leave my cabin now with bags packed, stuffed with wool, upon my shoulders.  And the sun has turned the ice ferns into mist thus laying branches bare. The melt has begun, which will leave this countryside a brown and grey pre-Spring mud.  I see clearly from this side of Friday that what I call my faith slips often and easily into anxiety and disappointment.  Yet, something of this day now grows inside me convincing me just more that a great Mystery is closer than I often realize.

And like the slow unfolding journey of faith itself, I find myself renewed and just noticeably matured.  I come to realize more that hope does not abandon us even in instances of apparent hopelessness, and that the storms about which we often fear the worst tend to become the very experiences that bring us ever upward into the image and presence of God.  Onwards with resolve.

Spiritual Retreat: A Winter’s Walk

For the next few days,  I will continue posting a series of journal entries I made on a retreat last winter.  Every six months I try and take a few days away to regroup and focus on one spiritual master.  Last year, it was The Cloud of Unknowing.


Day 3 Afternoon: A Winter’s Walk

As I loose myself in this grandeur, two panting breaths pull me back to earth.  A golden lab and his younger and darker brother find their way through a thicket adjoining some neighbor’s house.  Surprised, I wonder what disposition these hounds might bring to my morning.  We acquaint, and our friendship sparks.  Indeed, I will not be alone this morning to enjoy scenes left undiscovered.

The pathway calls me deeper, and though my toes and bones now feel the chill, I listen to the onward beckon.  I quietly turn another corner.  A flutter high above catches my eye.  I look to my surprise and find two cardinals, deep in red, jumping through branches.  Somehow, this sets my spirit ablaze in awe.  Has any other man seen such beauty of cardinal upon perfect blue sky and among the whitest of branches? The dogs take little care, and as the birds flit off, I am caught up in sheer wonder.

A deep peace flows over my body and spirit as I think of yesterday’s reflection.  My life’s future is unclear, and I have been fighting off a nagging apprehension, but now, in this moment, I am abandoned to this great Mystery who now seems so capable to lead me onwards. What kind of Creating Mystery would make a trillion trillion ice ferns for only one man and two dogs to see? Whatever the intricacies of this living God, I sense now that whatever may come, I will be cared for in a very intricate way and that wherever my path will lead, those Mysterious eyes will be waiting not for me to seek His benefits, but that I would simply learn to cast to Him my love and receive His in return…

Spiritual Retreat: Ice Ferns

For the next few days,  I will continue posting a series of journal entries I made on a retreat last winter.  Every six months I try and take a few days away to regroup and focus on one spiritual master.  Last year, it was The Cloud of Unknowing.


Day 3: Ice Ferns

Dreams come and go, and I am stirred from my bed early today.  After sipping some water, I am drawn to my window again.

Then, it hits me like a thousands rays of light: the clouds have passed, the sun has freshly awoken, and the frozen world gleams.  I must get out among this wonder.

I practically jump into my wool and boots and pack my breakfast quickly.  Before I know it, I too have become part of this magnificent morning.  Perfectly deep blue skies grace this unfolding gift of a day as I walk into a vista that makes my jaw drop and spirit soar.   A trillion trillion ice crystals have formed on the slumbering, leafless limbs of these woods.  At closer look, each miniature crystal is like an ice fern with ten to twenty leaves.  One branch hosts perhaps a hundred crystals perhaps a thousand, and before me the blazing morning sun reveals a whole frozen wood, a greatly frosted forest.  Later, I learn they call this hoarfrost, where the temperatures dip more quickly than the trees, and the cold literally freezes the air vapors in millions of magnificent patterns.

On this one-decade day, I sit in awe of the detailed and careful artistry and know that in a few hours, all will melt.  The aged dichotomies of science and faith fade from my mind; I see this intermingling world of wonder and precision and, Oh, how the Mystery must be rejoicing at this beautiful artistry.  I alone will be its witness…

A Spiritual Retreat for a Fragmented Age

For the Next Few Days,  I will post a series of journal entries I made on a retreat last winter.  Every six months I try and take a few days away to regroup and focus on one spiritual master.  Last year, it was The Cloud of Unknowing.


Day 1: A Winter’s Retreat

The snow came while the world slumbered, and the people of central Kentucky had braced for the worst. Winter advisories warned of inches, perhaps five or six: an unusual accumulation this far south.  Last year, an ice storm blanketed the region cracking limbs, killing power, and shutting down society for half a week.  But five inches of snow, that would be an event of a decade.

So when I heard of the looming forecast that coinciding with a weekend where wife and child were visiting grandma, I hurried for the Kentucky woods to a familiar Catholic retreat center. With large decisions on our life’s horizon, these two days would be the perfect chance to breathe deep and listen to the Mystery’s leading…

Christian Fall Revelry

“There is a season”, pines the author of Ecclesiastes.  Some parts of the world endure the rainy and dry seasons, but I live in a land where springs unfolds finally into winter.  And there is sacredness in these rhythms.

On the one hand, we learn lessons from the rhythms of our earth.  The leafless branches of the winter argue to us that all is dead.  I know an African man who arrived in the U.S. for the first time.  It was the calm of winter.  He looked around himself and “wondered if these American’s killed all their trees.” Yet, as sure as the sun rises, it also moves towards its springtime blaze.  The air warms, the snow melts, and the life that is more powerful than death will work its magic.  There is a lesson in the seasons about our univere.

On the other hand, I believe the seasons deeply relate with our spirits.  We must follow them if we want to thrive as humans.  Why is it that we spend billions of dollars making the winter streets as if it were summer? Plows, salt, pressing through the haze.  Winter days with with white wind were meant for gathering in and resting.  The seasons place harsh limits on our weary souls.   Fall days were meant for enjoying and reverlry.  Why do we pound the days away on our computers and walk across the city paths with our heads buried in the next text.  Lift up your heads; this fall will never arrive again.

We do not worship the seasons or the forces they create.  But we open our hearts wide to their sacred rhythms.  If we are lucky, we learn to dance and sing their songs.  Do not take my word for it.  Take Wendell’s:

“The foliage has dropped
below the window’s grave edge,
baring the sky, the distant
hills, the branches,
the year’s greenness
gone down from the high
light where it so fairly
defied falling.
The country opens to the sky,
the eye purified among hard facts:
the black grid of the window,
the wood of trees branching
outward and outward
to the nervousness of twigs
buds asleep in the air”

Primitive Imagination and Early Christianity

In 1978 Walter Bruggemann gave us the Prophetic Imagination.  It is time in 2010 that we explore the Primitive Imagination.

In his book on African Indigenous Theology, Kwome Bediako affirms a six-layered description of what can also be called Indigenous Ways of Knowing or Primal Worldview: 1. kinship with nature, 2. a deep sense of humanity’s finitude, 3. a conviction that humanity is not alone in the universe, 4. a belief that humanity can enter into relationship with a benevolent spirit-world, 5. an acute sense of the afterworld, 6. and a mental structuring of a sacramental universe with no sharp dichotomy between the physical and the spiritual. This ‘primal imagination’, heralds Bediako, not only matches with the primal imagination of the early Christians, but as such, “Africans have found a principle of understanding and interpretation which is superior to any thing that a secular world-view is able to offer.”

My goal here is not to thrash the contributions of a secular world-view but to illustrate and affirm the primitive imagination of the Early Christians.  I use ‘primitive’ without an evolutionary framework and with keen sense that we have much to learn from the indigenous imagination.  And, like Bruggemann, I use the term “imagination” not to say “fictitious”.  Rather, I suggest that by the term “imagination” we account for and honor a multitude of metaphysical perspectives on reality written within the history of humanity.

Could it be true that our African brothers and sisters might have an angle on understaning the Early Christians than we European descendants?