"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

February 28, 2012

The Season of Lent

Lent is here and I am consciously working on many things as are so many others who observe this season of reflection and repentance in honor of the forty days leading up to the Crucifixion of Christ. Here are a few of the mundane and the more prosaic: Since Ash Wednesday I have given up all gluten products and sugar (except for a bit of local honey now and then); I have been on the computer less; I'm trying to connect more in person and through letters; and I've booked a five-day retreat next month at The Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky. A retreat at this special place of solitude (as there is no talking allowed), where Thomas Merton lived and wrote, has been on my bucket list for many years, even before I moved to Kentucky. As this is my 50th year, I am poised for a kind of renewal from the inside out and for a new way of seeing the world around me and within me. It is time.

"Once again, Lent is not just a time for squaring conscious accounts: but for realizing what we had perhaps not seen before. The light of Lent is given us to help us with this realization." 
~ Thomas Merton, from his essay, "Ash Wednesday"

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

~ Mary Oliver, Thirst

Now to find a church, apart from the natural world (I am a Transcendentalist at the very core of me), that will let me in its doors–or better yet, will let me come back in.

You come back when you're ready!



  1. I haven't revealed to anyone my sacrifice for lent. So, I think I will. It's being funny or coy ,or cute. Whatever you want call it. It probably defines my generation. It is not very becoming for someone my age to imitate Seinfeld, Romano, or Ron White 24/7. Actually it is pretty annoying. It has also rubbed off on my kids. I think it may take vow of silence for a week, or 40 days in the wilderness, to work for me. Anyway, I don't know what transcendentalism is. I know a person has a core, but does transcendentalism have a core.

    1. I'm taping an early Ron White segment on Comedy Central as I write this! I have never considered giving up snark for Lent but probably should. My boys tend to fall half and half with the humor: the oldest likes the weirder stuff, like I do (Monty Python and Portlandia are classic examples of this kind of humor), while the younger favors the debauched slapstick or raunchy humor of his father (Three Stooges, Laurel & Hardy, Larry the Cable Guy--ok, we all like him--and the like).

      Transcendentalism is basically seeing God in the natural world and realizing that "church" can be experienced in the cathedral of trees or outdoors. The sublime power of nature and a Creator. Henry David Thoreau and R.W. Emerson were among the best examples of Transcendentalists. Although I like a good church choir so I can't really claim the T word in totality.

      Thanks for reading, TW.

  2. I go to the most amazing church and it's so close! I merely walk out my back door where I am surrounded by trees at least 200 years old, bird calls, deer sneaking up to the salt block, wild turkeys taking a stroll through my yard to see if any sunflower seeds have fallen from the bird feeders onto the ground, and, when really blessed, glimpses of my gray foxes. It's the best and most rewarding church I know.


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