I arise facing East,
I am asking toward the light;
I am asking that my day
Shall be beautiful with light.
I am asking that the place
Where my feet are shall be light,
That as far as I can see
I shall follow it aright.
I am asking for the courage
To go forward through the shadow,
I am asking towards light!–Mary Austin
Mary Austin wrote about life in the Sierra Nevada mountains and valleys of California, about the Native peoples, the white settlers, the animals and the natural rhythm of the area.
On my walk this morning, I noticed that all the trees in my neighborhood are full of leaves now. I don’t know the names of all of them, but my crepe myrtle’s spindly branches are now fully covered.
I don’t know if it is my imagination, but if trees really do help with oxygenating the air, then I got a good dose this morning. Maybe it is the drenching we’ve received from the El Niño rains, because from the thickness of leaves on branches, summer is near. Breathe deep their gift of clean air, O Southern California!
In thinking about all the trees I pass by and walk under in my neighborhood, I remembered the first line of this well-known poem:“I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree…” But I could not go on, so I looked it up. I was very surprised by the rest of it, part prayer/part tree as source of life. And I don’t think I realized it was so old. It is very touching.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I have always felt in my bones the ending of the old year and the expectation of the new. I suppose that my birthday is on January first has something to do with it, because birthdays, too, feel like fresh starts. Though I don’t make resolutions, I do try to look at my life as I ponder what worked this year, what didn’t, what I want less of and what I want more of in the new year.
So I will spend this week in thoughtful dialog with myself, finding inspiration and journaling a lot. The week will also include old movies, a bike ride or two and some pie. Mmmm, pie 🙂
I have only been blogging on Relevant Obscurity for a few months, but I have treasured the interactions I have experienced with other bloggers, whose own work I hope carries on throughout the new year.
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) is known in California for her novel Ramona, but she was also a prolific writer and advocate for Native American rights. As a poet, she sums up well for me the feelings of this time of the year. Published posthumously in a collection of her poems I hope “A New Year’s Morning” (1892), inspires you as well.
Only a night from old to new! Only a night, and so much wrought! The Old Year’s heart all weary grew, But said: “The New Year rest has brought.” The Old Year’s hopes its heart laid down, As in a grave; but trusting, said: “The blossoms of the New Year’s crown Bloom from the ashes of the dead.” The Old Year’s heart was full of greed; With selfishness it longed and ached, And cried: “I have not half I need. My thirst is bitter and unslaked. But to the New Year’s generous hand All gifts in plenty shall return; True love it shall understand; By all my failures it shall learn. I have been reckless; it shall be Quiet and calm and pure of life. I was a slave; it shall go free, And find sweet peace where I leave strife.”
Only a night from old to new! Never a night such changes brought. The Old Year had its work to do; No New Year miracles are wrought. Always a night from old to new! Night and the healing balm of sleep! Each morn is New Year’s morn come true, Morn of a festival to keep. All nights are sacred nights to make Confession and resolve and prayer; All days are sacred days to wake New gladness in the sunny air. Only a night from old to new; Only a sleep from night to morn. The new is but the old come true; Each sunrise sees a new year born.
I love crows. It is a mystery to me as to why they fascinate me, but I love to watch them and observe their lives. I do not fear them or think them evil, and believe a short freestyle poem on this hallowed day is appropriate!
On this night when the veil between this world and that of the Spirit is thin, may you be touched by the lives of your ancestors and may their memories always live in your hearts. Happy Halloween!
I love my crows.
They are liquid black beauty.
They strut as they walk, confident.
What do they know?
I am pierced at the ‘caw.’
It makes me pause; I turn my heading looking for something.
Something I know? Something I lost? Something I need? Something….
Catching the eye of a crow
is contact with magic, with Merlin or Diana.
It is a gateway to the Dreamtime, to The Deeps, to the Soul.
On the wing, scratching the ground for food, cawing into the wind, they turn my head, thrill my heart
calling me to the Universe they rule,
where I am my true self living in the magic of the Old Ones.