Archive | October 2012


It was just an ordinary late summer afternoon.  I was relaxing on our deck with a book that took me back to16th century England—a happy escape from all the messiness of our 21st century!  As I turned a page, I looked up into the stillness.   And there he was.  A tiny wren.  Sitting quiet and alone on the railing.  Little head, little body, and little stand-up tail all alert and taut, but no sound.

I whistled something I thought was similar to his call.  He bobbed his head, flicked his tiny body this way and that, arched his head in my direction, and truly seemed to be listening ever so closely.

I whistled again.  In response, he chirped a deep throaty trill, a kind of gutteral gibberish.  I can’t begin to reproduce his sounds—they were so unlike his usual crisp, clear call.  Almost as though this little creature was speaking in tongues!  We didn’t have an interpreter, so I have no idea what he was trying to say, but he was clearly directing his husky warbling to me!

Then he became quiet as he again bobbed and twitched and stretched his tiny head toward me, as if to say, “your turn.”   It was all so delightfully playful!  I whistled again, and again he responded, a chattering from somewhere deep in his throat.

The pattern repeated itself over and over again, and our charmingly intimate conversation lasted for several minutes, reaching across the deck and spanning the gulf between human and bird.

I was enthralled!  He seemed more perplexed than enthralled, quite honestly, but he kept at it until, eventually, he decided he’d had enough and hopped into the bushes surrounding the deck.  But for those few brief shining moments, we were mysteriously linked—deep calling to deep—our spirits joined in a lively, almost holy dance of sounds never to be forgotten.   I sat in silence for awhile, humbled and blessed by this hallowed encounter and realized anew that God speaks to us in so many different languages.

Luminous Life II

thanks to Bonnie Kestner, a friend in Virginia, for this photo

thanks to Carol Myers-Lessa, a friend in South Carolina, for these two photos

and these two are from our front porch in New York

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Luminous Life

Does she have any idea of how radiant she is,

this lovely burst of color tiptoeing so

bold, yet mute, across my sedum?

Any idea of the awe she evokes as she

lifts her dainty antennae, all aquiver with

thankful glee for the lush pink fragrance she has found?

Any idea that I am snapping picture after

picture to capture something of her exquisite

presence on my front porch?  None at all.  So

blissfully un-self-conscious of her charm, she simply

sips the gift of nectar and opens up her

wings to let the sun fall warm across her brilliant

orange.  More sips, and then at last she

softly folds her wings and turns, as if to say,

“enough gawking already; go live your own luminous life!”

Her life will be so short, perhaps a month, but in that

fleeting time, she will profoundly shine, so

fully present to her moment and her task, so

silently attentive to what she needs to do.

And watching her, I wonder—can we learn her simple ways,

live each our own small radiance, and

be so-all-a-quiver-present to the marvels all around?