Ash Wednesday

This poem by Tennyson is a poem to welcome February, but I’m using it to welcome Lent.  For me, Lent means Spring.


Snowdrop poem Tennyson


“From December to March, there are for many of
us three gardens:
the garden outdoors,
the garden of pots and bowls in the house,
and the garden of the mind’s eye.”

–  Katherine S. White


We do not ask what useful purpose the birds do sing, for song is their pleasure since they were created for singing.  Similarly, we ought not to ask why the human mind troubles to fathom the secrets of the heavens…  The diversity of the phenomena of Nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.”

–   Johannes Kepler, Mysterium Cosmographicum 



And Here’s a wonderful long poem by Maurice Manning:


If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
___________________—Psalm 95


At first the thunder and rain defeat
but then renew
the ground and break it terribly open. Now
even the dawn

has heavy darkness in it, the sun,
in silence seeming
to refuse the sky, has heeded what was needed,
to stun and try.



Having found a bird’s wing,
the whole thing—
maliciously from the bird’s body torn
no more for flying—

under the tree, I walk along
my lesson, as other better birds not born
for grieving sing.



I’m beginning to understand how wrong
I was, and long
it was I once believed that seeking you
was something I

could do alone. That was a lark.
The wind and the loud
hurrahs of cedar trees redress me. Stark
you are in this song.



On warming days I hear from the ground
the tiny sound
of water dripping, as if it’s slipping down,
and the living earth

is breathing out its sleep and waking.
Let me repeat,
the living earth is waking. And making the time
for sighing sweet.



O, teach me to untangle hope
from hope that’s false,
and lead me farther down the winding path
and whatever else

you think I need, because the angle
of the woven slope
of love and grief is steep. Unless the bind
is by design.



The possibility that part
of you is hidden,
in the mystical tradition of the word,
so perfectly

reveals the language of silence you
have always spoken.
Only our passionate symbols half-create
to feel the art.



To be involved in silence and yet
to listen to it,
to wander in the midst of nowhere, not
to know or hunger

to know, to be in constant prayer
though not to be through
with praying, to stand in the blaze of beauty to be
silent with you.



The track in the woods, the dead leaves
newly disturbed,
the little lines and signs of what has been
a sudden blur

of presence. How similar it is
to a new sentence
after reading it, how fine of you to leave it
or let it occur.



And you the listener and you
the very sound,
and you the knower and the knowledge, and you
the single thing

and everything, and you the certain
and unforeseen,
as nothing renders all, as grace comes through
the bitter fall.



The light, by fading, is purpling
its reddish look,
and though the water in the stream below
the hill heralds

its motion slowly down by singing,
the reflected tree
is as still as a word on the page, as I am still,
reading the book.



It is not the recognition of you
or reverence
or my growing like a ring inside a tree
in knowing you

that burdens me yet lovingly,
but my acceptance
of that you have already given me,
your taking me.



So as you or part of you can die
and be divided
that we shall be not saved from suffering,
but saved instead

from suffering
without hope or knowing it shall end,
you decided to give
this season, when passion is breaking out of the earth
no longer dead.

After feeling the world is falling
farther apart
and following the gravity of grief,
strangely to reel

with relief—as if despairing cares—
is wallowing,
and thin as a thread, and sundered by birds heard
pealing their prayers.



On the hill in the little mound of trees
of different kinds
and sizes, as if they give each other life,
as if the round

of trees is a single living thing,
I saw on the ground,
yet glistening, a drop of blood, and knew
it dropped from you.



To be reminded of grace is grace
itself, shorter
the shadows fall. Illumination now
is lit, and lighter

is heavy life, yet like a lace,
with all its order
designed to be seen through, I see and avow
the bit that’s brighter.



The blue of the bare sky that’s pierced
so serenely
by the sycamore is an agonizing art
of contrast and love—

not ordinary love, but vaster.
Though adding crows
for piercing those, is kindly devastation,
the beautiful part.



Now night is tangled in the hills
and like a river,
continuous, the darkness flows and goes
without an end,

like you, and as your darkness thrills,
I have discovered
your continuity, as trills of those
you shout and send.



It’s plain that everything is here—
what isn’t seen
serenely is evident by being beyond
its contemplation.

A heaven-leaning, to be sure—
I can’t imagine
a question for you that isn’t already fondly
greening with answer.



Not wisdom or wisdom’s speech, not these
I seek, though sought,
or probably so, because I thought I should,
because to be wise

is prized. I’d rather now arrive
at the famous cloud,
and before it slowly not to know myself
and be caught in the breach.



It’s blue and greening now and the chill
of the dying ground
is all but gone and everything that’s green
is brightly clad

in slightly brighter green and filled
with a gladder sound—
the clatter of green abounds before it’s stilled
to sighing sound.



For something to begin with nothing
and end with all,
though not to end, in order to fulfill,
to be revealed

in full and yet requiring a fall—
routinely, too—
from all created after you, compelled
to call for you.



Once I unwillingly become
remote from you
and wake to discover the distance I’ve suddenly gone,
I wonder who

was I, unknowing, following?
Then my own name
so starkly answers the wonder, paling, alone,
and burned by shame.



When rivers curl around and curve
as a hand to make
determined shapes and leave the land designed,
I marvel and take

a steady look to find your mind
behind the scene,
but see instead, in parsed and portioned green,



Let there be dew sprinkled and flung,
and let there be
on tiny branches shiny droplets hung
to reflect the sun.

Let me be moved by sparkling,
let you be proved
by everything that clings and pines to chime
the reckoning.



The first triumphant violets
have found my gaze,
the tiny trumpeters have blown their horns
from the greening maze

and summoned me to notice, yet
only to see
them sunning there, so quietly reborn,
undoomed and free.



I confess, to have the burden off
and shine myself
in transformation never feels complete
enough or lasting,

though I admit discreetly wanting
the lighter load,
or a better way to bear it, or a place
to lay it down.



As I know it, time unwinds and slows
to seem more measured,
but another time is adding up, a tick
and ages pass,

so what was living once returns
to be more treasured,
becoming matter for the ground and pricked
to feed the grass.



To contemplate the sacrifice
and why it requires
a perversely formal ceremony of joy
before the anguish—

the jumble of shame and ornament,
the donkey ride—
unrhymable, all of this discord designed
to reconcile.



There is no greater banality
than power whose force
and authority have been gained by great deceit
or falsifying

a righteousness. The lies unravel
now from the source,
but rather than claiming glory, you tender your heart
and soul for dying.



I build a temple out of sheets
and rags lowered
over the apple trees to keep the frost
from killing the flowers.

A child has done this hopeful feat,
to make a tower
from a tree with a sanctuary underneath
and room for a ghost.



In the final days if it is so
that I would turn
from you or deny I know you, please allow
my cowardice

and vanity to be forgiven
and help me more
to comprehend you, though I offend you. Bend
my knees to send you.



My sympathy persists for those
who couldn’t stay
awake when you were praying in the garden,
and twice you asked,

before the betrayer came and kissed you,
which didn’t sway
your purpose to take away the dark, or harden
your fiercest task.



In the purple dawn the paradox
of the day begins,
the crowds are cheering death in the very face
of saving grace—

the nails are hammered into the wood,
the blood glistens,
the curtain tears in two, by God, and we
proclaim it good.



The death is suddenly a fright,
it wrenches those
who wanted it and can’t undo it now,
and they go wailing.

My Lord, I heard a bird this night,
one mocking whose
enchanting stirred my heart to joy at how
it sang through failing.



The simplicity of coming back
to life, as a flower,
from desolation, the symbol now the fact,
the same power,

as if you rose up out of the ground,
as everything
in spring, in colorful passion, banishes
the suffering.

for Fenton Johnson and Brother Paul Quenon

by maurice manning



Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

The religious imagineer

Where the fire and the rose are one

Gaudium et Spes 22

by Dr. Larry Chapp

Tikorangi The Jury Garden

Mark and Abbie Jury

I Love To Go A Gardening

Growing Our Life in Northern Michigan

Wonders in the Dark

Cinema, music, opera, books, television, theater

Mason Street

The literary magazine of Newark Public Library

Morse, Lewis and Endeavour

Welcome to the Morse Universe

Shades of My Garden

a window into a life, a conversation with a soul, a gateway to a heart

Slouching Towards Senescence

Aging woman reads, steeps tea, feeds cats and is ridiculous.....

Gather Victoria


Kate Macdonald

about writing, reading and publishing

The Lore of the Garden

Myths, legends, folklore, fairytales about flora, fauna and sacred landscapes


Dominican Preaching through Word and Image

My little corner of the world.

Faith, love, and listening to the language of the world.


meandering through, writing about whatever strikes my fancy

“But I ask myself, What must I do to make my life a true story?”

Jeffrey Levine

poetry, publishing, and mentoring

Creative Spiritual Directions

... reflections to inspire creative spiritual directions ... ... . . . .

%d bloggers like this: