Church is a machine for the making of saints,
not so different from the making of sausage
the process of which you don’t want to see.
It may be the same with the saints––
God at work in the human soul, sweating
betraying an image we cannot abide.
But who’s to say what goes on inside any man
woman or child? God knows and perseveres,
poking, prodding, sometimes with fire
seeming oblivious to the pain induced, which
must be serving some purpose, some use,
hidden as is the process for making sausage.
If ever I needed further proof
that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
was still active in our fallen world,
I found that proof in you. In your seeing
what had to be done and doing it
with a passion that consumed your life.
A prophet indeed, and more than a prophet––
a man for all seasons, tested and found
worthy of the task assigned.
Now you go on in support of the life
you called into being by your bold action
knowing this is how the kingdom will come.
… the moment one definitely commits
oneself, then Providence moves too.
The Scottish Himalayan Expedition
To walk from periphery to center is the longest walk
one makes in a given life. No matter when
it happens––at 3, 15, or 73––no matter, only
that it happens, lands you at the creating center
committed to fulfill the work of your life,
most immediately, the work of the day.
Who’s to say but you what the work is
discerned in silence and fed by a hundred moments
of deep joy. Go ahead. Take the walk of commitment
from periphery to center. I double-dare you
to fall down and kiss the ground that is creation
of which you are a part, so help you God.
stewardship of the land we bought
when we were barely old enough
to grasp the meaning of being stewards
of what we had been given.
With age comes understanding.
With age comes sense of responsibility
to history held in the rings of the oak
in the whorls of pine crowned with cones
and even deeper in glacial stones
raked across this land in a distant time,
all of it passing through our hands
like water, as do the passing years …
And what we choose, our actions now
are the future for stewards who follow.
A Poem by Jane Costlow
Squirrel slides off our roof
into the barrel of pollen-scummed rain, into
the big black trash can beside the beach rose.
A lid might have saved him.
On sunny summer days it waters the garden.
The morning’s post-storm stillness interrupted
by this floating corpse. One more.
Beneath our blooms and clover
it’s a graveyard out there: beloved felines, disemboweled
possum, the bird that hit the window.
Sleek stiff hair, already smelly,
it slides off the shovel and into the back-fence hole
beside the compost. Dust to dust.
Air, water, earth.
The fire of sun
steams off the heavy dew.
All our bodies fall into what comes next.
Et in arcadia the heat of life slips
quickly down to cold, once the course is run.
Morning light skids down the shingles.
Peas and basil lift with the warming air.
My stomach turns inside me.
I’m the only one
in this joint who knows the end.
If this is the first day, if this is the last
it will be enough to have lived it
giving thanks for the red of the swamp
maple, the yellow of dandelion––
for lilac on the edge of the field
and red-winged blackbird’s pale blue
eggs spotted and scrawled with brown
and purple, hidden in a cup of marsh
grass, visible to One who watches over
and calls forth the life that stirs
in that reedy grass.
I dug the well an inch at a time
through matted grass, soil and gravel
clay and soft rock, down and down
’til at nine feet the water flowed.
The vein was slow when it first bled
but now the channel cleared of dross
pumps pure from the heart of earth
and cannot be turned off.