Seeing with Delight

Trish StefanikA Benedictine Sojourner's View, Living in Community, Monastic Life Leave a Comment

coneflower smIt’s July, full heat bearing down. I am dizzied by the lightness of being, buzzing and blossoming in the prairie. If you haven’t read it already do enjoy Greg Armstrong’s marvelously descriptive ode to the flora on the monastery grounds this time of year (Nature Notes Summer 2013). It seems a day does not pass that I am not exclaiming to whoever is in earshot, Wow – unbelievable!

How can such lush beauty be so conspicuous where just three short months ago dead stalks covered acres of barren field? My way to Morning Prayer through the prairie now is quite the trip! Jolly green plants tower above me on either side, and in one stretch it’s as if I am walking through a prairie version of Cecil B. DeMille’s Red Sea. New shapes and colors from indigo blues to bright orange joining yellow and crimson and shades of pink appear and change in the blink of every few days. Goldfinches and little flying creatures with gossamer wings as well as those of the pesky variety weave in and out of the brush as if creating a tapestry of the unfolding wonder. It helps to watch my step to not bother the frogs hopping about; and also to keep my head slightly bowed to avoid the swooshing and feverish flapping and chak-chak-chak of the red-winged blackbirds letting me know I need to just pass on by the family nests hidden somewhere in the tall grasses.

How can such diversity, so infinitely expressed, grow and flourish together in the same place? How does the one thing, even I for that matter, fit into the whole? What do we make of this particular season of life so different from the one before and inevitably becoming quite something else before too long?

I ponder these things, but mostly I am just in awe. Slow down. Look. Listen. Appreciate.  My senses heighten to that which is right in front of me, and at the same time I am beckoned beyond what my mind or any of my senses can fully grasp. In that spirit, I was inspired to write a couple of poems. You might want to find a sunny spot and give it a try too.


One Morning

There it is,
the blue heron.
I had heard about it,
though I am completely
surprised to see it

at lake’s edge –
as if there always,
but I hadn’t noticed.
Today, by some grace
I am held mid-breath,
mid-step, stopped

by feathered glory
mirrored in sunlit waters
and shimmering
unbound, right up
into my heart

gazing at


Pondering Benedict’s instruction
“To keep death daily before one’s eyes”

I relate to that
which is timeless

yet still, situated
in time – birthing,
dying, living today
in ever unfolding

told in the tales
of the trees, each one,
the grasses,
the creatures
of the air and lake,

you, me,
the other, all part
of some whole

from season to season.
It’s hard to wrap
my mind around;

but thank God,
I can pay attention
now, and perhaps
touch heaven
in the wildflowers.

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