The woods is shining this morning.
Red, gold and green, the leaves
lie on the ground, or fall,
or hang full of light in the air still.
Perfect in its rise and in its fall, it takes
the place it has been coming to forever.
It has not hastened here, or lagged.
See how surely it has sought itself,
its roots passing lordly through the earth.
See how without confusion it is
all that it is, and how flawless
its grace is. Running or walking, the way
is the same. Be still. Be still.
“He moves your bones, and the way is clear.”
~Wendell Berry, “Grace”
I am drawn to the picture above. It reminds me of the woods near my house where I often walk. It is not a deep woods; the trees are sort of scruffy and growing at odd angles, misshapen by wind and storm. But the slanted light filtering through the leaves can be glorious and the trees offer sweet companionship along the way, whispering their leafy wisdom as the wind passes through their branches. I may not understand their language but my spirit and body recognize their sacred presence.
Trees seem never in a hurry: leafing and un-leafing in perfect timing with the world around them. There is no rushing, forcing, grasping, or “confusion.” Familiar rhythms of letting go and renewal are repeated again and again, year after year.
Trees teach us about identity and belonging. In his book “New Seeds of Contemplation” Thomas Merton writes: “A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be, it is obeying (God). It “consents,” so to speak, to (God’s) creative love.” Each stage of the tree’s life and death (from seedling to decaying log) blesses the whole.
In the poem above, Wendell Berry reminds us that the way of experiencing this “flawless grace” is the same: “Be still. Be still.” As we come to the end of October and our theme of “Peregrinatio” — how are you being invited to “be still” even as you follow the divine current? Where are the places in your life, where you are being invited to trust in the “flawless grace” that holds and carries you, season by season?