Solstice Blessing

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In the shadowed quiet of winter’s light
earth mourns softly…

Kneel down here
on the frosty grass,
and seek the hope buried in the ground.

Bend your ear to the beating heart of the planet
and listen hard.

A whisper: love this world.

Distill peace from the snow
and water the cities
with mercy.

Weave wonder from the forest
and clothe grief
with beauty.

Rest in the rhythm of the turning year,
trace the golden threads
connecting all beings,
and vow anew to do no harm.

The winter trees stand watch
haloed in the last gleams of the slanting sun.

Branches sway.
Birds sing.
Wonder abounds.

Make your life an answer:
Pay Attention.
Be Connected.
Live in Awe.

adapted from  Rebecca Parker’s A Winter Blessing
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Winter Thanks

This endless winter cold is making me very grateful for all the technology, food and activities that keep me warm. I am grudgingly grateful, but grateful none the less for our gas fireplace, electric stove, and lovely hot water. This poem sums it up.

Winter Thanks

by Marcus Jackson

To the furnace—tall, steel rectangle
containing a flawless flame.
To heat

gliding through ducts, our babies
asleep like bundled opal.
Praise

every furry grain of every
warm hour, praise each
deflection of frost,

praise the fluent veins, praise
the repair person, trudging
in a Carhartt coat

to dig for leaky lines, praise
the equator, where snow
is a stranger,

praise the eminent sun
for letting us orbs buzz around it
like younger brothers,

praise the shooter’s pistol
for silencing its fire by
reason of a chilly chamber

praise our ancestors who shuddered
through winters, bunched
on stark bunks,

praise the owed money
becoming postponed by a lender
who won’t wait

much longer in the icy wind,
praise the neon antifreeze
in our Chevrolet radiator,

and praise the kettle whistle,
imitating an important train,
delivering us

these steam-brimmed sips of tea.

“Winter Thanks” by Marcus Jackson, from Neighborhood Register. © Cavan Kerry Press, 2011.

Winter’s Harsh Beauty

For the UU Spiritual Practices blog I curate for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Durham, where I am the Consulting Minister, I spend some time each week reading and watching and listening to meditations. A few weeks ago, I found this magnificent video of an unusually cold winter in Holland filmed by Paul Klaver at a nature reserve. Death and life are present in the snowy landscape. In the midst of this brutal cold snap, this ode to winter’s strength makes me appreciate my warm house, but also reminds me that the bare bones of winter are strangely beautiful.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/81372566″>Winter</a&gt; from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/pklaver”>Paul Klaver</a> on.</p>

 

Winter solitude…

Waterloo, like much of southern Ontario, is grey, icy, and quiet after the big storm and power outages of the weekend. Here are some beautiful winter images for this moment after the storm.

Winter solitude–
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.
Basho

Caspar-David-Friedrich_Winter-Landscape

Winter Landscape by Casper David Friedrich

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Midnight Mass by Edward T. Hurley

Winter-bernie-fuchs-wolves

Winter wolves by Bernie Fuchs

Paintings found via Tor.com Picturing Winter

Starlings in Winter

Starling image from wired.com

Starling image from wired.com

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to be a guest minister at the Peterborough Unitarian Fellowship.   My reflection was based in part on Starlings in Winter; Mary Oliver’s beautiful and astute observations on that marvellous “wheel of many parts” that is starlings in flight.  Watching that dance renews my spirit as Oliver captures so well.

 
Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard.  I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.