Each Breath, Inspiration

Write 31 days, Day 9
Today’s prompt: Inspire

To inspire is
to breath life.
So often we wait
for something…anything
to energize us
to get creative juices flowing.

But are we paying
to the present
moment?

-To criss-crossed rakes, slumbering
beneath the blanket
quilted leaf by leaf.

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-To a 9 year old
contemplating the rain or perhaps
multiplication’s complexity.

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-To ducks
upon ponds and puddles
contemplating the rain or perhaps
multiplication’s complexity.

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-To a benevolent Dane
enthroned upon
a burgundy dais
overseeing the play
of his loyal subjects.

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Each whisper…each blink
a breath
an inspiration.

For reflection: 
What inspires you in this moment?

Morning Greeting

Today is National Poetry Day, which is as good a time as any to share one of my older poems, written in 2015.

Black birds in black trees
     wings and branches
     stretched heavenward in morning praise
     silhouetted against the pastel Southeastern sky
A world awakening
     coming alive

Venus looks down from her heavenly seat
     the last nocturne light to retreat

Leaves fall
     crows caw
          squirrels having a ball
greeting the morning with glee
chattering aloud, “Come see! Come see!” 

Autumn’s Bouquet

I smelled it today
for the first time.
Autumn’s bouquet
carried on wisps of wind.
Fallen leaves–
yellow crescents–
shuffle along the roadway.
Some still dressed
in vibrant greens
hang on to life and limb,
yet when I pause
beneath the drooping canopy
and listen
I hear death’s rattle
in their breath.
Sleep comes soon to them all.

Always in Beauty

From my book, Soil of the Divine

Morning breaks forth after cool night,
like a child from the womb
sometimes noisily
sometimes with barely a sound
but always in beauty.

Whether coiffured clouds
or baldheaded sun,
the morning’s emerging light
and blanket of dew
remind of God’s mercies
each morning made new.

From the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
-Psalm 110:3

Are you grateful?

I awoke at four. My internal timekeeper has recently decided the day begins then, even when I have the day off. After a shower, coffee, and some time with Jesus, I looked at my schedule for the day. I smiled at the words “Jason Off.” My only other responsibility for the day was to transport my dear brother and sister-in-law to the Ice Age Trail. They were beginning a three day, 26 mile hike.

At about 8:30, Derrick called and we agreed to meet in Cornell, a small town northeast of Eau Claire. They would leave their vehicle sit and I would transport them to New Auburn where they would begin their eastward journey. As the oldest sibling, I could not resist parenting them once more. “The heat index is going to be 110 degrees. Are you sure?” “Yes,” came the confident reply.

We loaded their gear into my non-air-conditioned F250 and caught up some. We talked about tattoos as they celebrated my recent acquisition, and we talked about kids, and art, and bed-making. I explained that research demonstrates that unmade beds are healthier, because they are not incubators for cooties. Bridget wasn’t buying it.

We also talked of gratitude, a virtue many of us fail to practice regularly. It is easy to devolve into a rhythm of complaint. Our lives become minor chord progressions that never seem to resolve. Negativity becomes what it hates. Thoughts continually focused upon what is bad give way to depression.

Yet, there is so much for which we can be grateful if we are willing to open our eyes. As I drove the country road north into Cornell, fields mostly of green surrounded me. I passed by one field still dressed in brown and I wondered whether the farmer chose to leave it fallow for the year. At full sprint, a well-muscle coyote darted in front of my truck. It seemed on mission, though I saw no roadrunner.

When I dropped Derrick and Bridget off at the trail head, we stood in a grassy field. There were purple flowers, and white, but the orange ones stood out. Only a single plant, flaming brightly like a campfire in the midst of a large clearing. I hugged them goodbye and began the trip home.

Along the way, I saw a thrift store and yard sale sharing the same parking lot. I had already driven past when it captured my attention, so I reversed course. Selling out of the back of an old trailer was an even older gentleman. His kindness was palpable. He frequents estate sales, but he only likes the ones that are handled by the family. I learned that when companies run them, they are too expensive. Although several tables held treasures untold, only one item captured my attention: a nondescript 12-string guitar. Its only marking was a small green tag, which read

-38-

I looked again to be sure. I hadn’t mistaken the price. Together with its brand new soft-sided case, I didn’t even hesitate. The man had never seen a guitar with twelve strings and he wondered if I played. I told him, “Yes. A bit, but not as well as my son.” I had no desire to barter, but he said to me, “how ’bout an even 35?” I smiled and handed him three crisp bills, eager to share my find with my family. IMG_1856

As I drove the 30 minutes home, I was reminded of God’s goodness. He is everywhere present–in the generosity of an octogenarian, in a blossom’s flame, in the speed of a coyote, and in the embrace of a brother.

If we were willing to pay attention and stay present to the moment, we could fill a notebook each day with the things for which we are grateful.

How about you? What are you grateful for today?

Raindrops are liquid joy
celebrated by the thunder
with claps of praise.

Dandelions

In the spring of the year
they rise from their slumber,
slender stalks supporting
saffron heads,
their bright composure
punctuating the cool green;
yet they are transient.

Bright blonde giving way to
tousled gray
until a breeze blows upon it
and it’s gone.

But God is a forget-me-not.
His steadfast love never ceases,
though He plucks and blows
upon the flower,
He spreads the seeds
upon the wind…
His breath carries life abundant
where many see death.

 

A reflection on Psalm 103 from my book Soil of the Divine.

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