Today, the Gratitude List first, and then the poem. Today’s Gratitude List is both gratitude and prayer. Two people in my circles are currently on ventilators fighting for their breath, for their lives. This is one of those times when the impetus of prayer rests on the shoulders of whole communities, when the feeling of the web that connects us all is so real it is almost physically palpable. That’s the first one:
1. The awareness of and atunement to the praying hearts of others, this bond, this web. Returning again and again throughout the day to that open, listening, waiting, connecting state of prayer and energy and light, of dropped and open awareness (as Starhawk calls it). It is hard work, but it is a place of great grace. The heart opens, and opens, and opens.
2. For those fragile and powerful bags, the lungs, that carry our breath into rivers, to tiny deltas, spreading outward like roots to feed us with breath. The Breath of Life, in so many religious traditions, is the Divine One breathing into the human being. . .in-spir-ation. . .re-spir-ation. May healing air fill their lungs.
3. The knowingness of our bodies, how we breathe without thinking, how it comes as naturally as life. May their bodies remember that work and take it up so that they may return home soon to their families. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.
4. The resilience of the brain. We know how fragile it is, but today we focus our hearts and hopes on its resilience, its ability to heal, to develop, even after trauma. And gratitude, too, for the protective armor of the skull.
5. I am grateful for sleep: I wish for them sleep, for healing rest, for the two who are struggling to breathe, for the mothers who must carry their own anxiety as well as that of their children, for the little ones.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
After we had buried the little hen
in a nest of soft grasses
between the roots of the old walnut tree
on the hill, sifting soil over the red feathers,
we looked around for rocks to cover the spot.
For a moment we considered
the stone that has always been there,
perched atop the last remaining locust post
that held up the electric fence that kept a pair
of hillside steers from wandering,
years before we ever came to this place.
We saw it there that day we first walked these hills,
looking across the patchwork valley,
across the bowl of the gently spreading hollow
and considered whether we could call it home.
Placed by some previous farmer’s hand,
carelessly, perhaps, or deliberately: this belongs here.
That stone has witnessed winters and thaws
and crackling summer heat,
the tractor trundling past by day,
and the patter of fox feet at night, fleeting
down the hill to cross the stream by moonlight.
The eagle flies above it, and the chickadee,
and mockingbird perches there to tell his histories.
A herd of silent deer will sometimes stand
next to the stone on the post
to catch the messages in scents
that waft down the ridge in the breeze.
It is touched by the glow
of light from the fire circle,
where it presides over murmurs and laughter,
singing and chanting, stories and dancing,
the gathering of friendship by firelight.
We gathered other rocks that afternoon
to mark the spot where the little hen lay
nestled among sweet grasses under earth.
The sentinel rock remains on its post.