Winter Makes Spirit Visible

St. Giles windows

St. Giles windows

10 November 2013
1:45 pm

T. —

It’s the last day with Garchen Rinpoche. I got up early to do some work, then sang at St. Giles, now sitting in the university library to finish my work before heading over to listen to Garchen. He’s doing teachings all afternoon on “The Prayer to Kuntuzangpo.” I’m not ready for him to leave.

More of [this] in my daily life:

  • Meditation
  • Dedicated practice
  • Patience
  • Joy
  • Care
  • Silence
  • Good work
  • Movement
  • Homemade food
  • Letters
  • Study
  • Humility

Less of [this] in my daily life:

  • Laziness
  • Wasted time
  • Self
  • Judgement


Come Winter
Rod Jelleny

Our two most beautiful words
said Henry James
are summer and afternoon,
and today he’s almost right.

Out of the leaves of an oak
that hums like Schubert
a breeze shakes flocks
of sunlight abounding
across the lawn

while little beads
skate their frosty tracks
all over my glass of pilsner,
and now there’s the distant
thwack of a screen door
and a blackbird’s whistle
riding above the muffled shouts
of boys playing baseball
in a vacant lot
three blocks or sixty years away.

But such a day sits still.
Just another summer afternoon
that can’t get past itself,
end of the line,
like the faded red boxcars
long years ago, left on a spur
in hot yellowing grass
in a wash of light
nowhere to go.

I pick up my beer and
turn back inside,
thinking there has to be more,
remembering in winter
lying still dark mornings
before the window drifted into place,

musing how snow rounds off
all edges of roofs and street signs,
how it curves and softens
a world in the same way that images,
dreams, imaginings
made and shaped the creation
as they rose out of holy darkness
that’s on the face of the deep.

So “the dead of winter”
is an old deception, a lie,
undone by swelling twigs
and pregnant bears asleep,
by the oily smell of the
baseball glove in the closet.
Winter is a girl who skips
over patches of dirty slush
with bright barrettes in her hair.
Winter makes (yes!) spirit visible
in the very steam from our mouths.
Call it a certain hope,

it finally raises from the dark
that stranger hope of a second coming
of the One who hung out the stars
at the world’s beginning, coming
not to scourge and burn
and blow up the world
and nail it to our failings
but to embrace and infuse it,
lighting up our recall
of Eden and who we are,
bringing us back to where
we can make the world right,

knowing again that
summer and afternoon
live and endure
only out of the
working depths of
winter and morning.


Good morning,


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