Blessing for Wilderness

Blessing for Wilderness (c) Gail Doktor

This blessing grows
In the thicket of thorny cane
Around which you bend and step
Caught on its prickers
So the scratch hurts

The berry sweetness
Ripe and red beneath the serrated green leaf
Bursts brighter on your tongue
Rolls throbbing through your hesitant fingers
Breaks on the ground
Smacks in the mouth
Hard-won among tall grass, lush fern, fallen birch, rotting logs, and working bees,

The wild richness flourishes
In the trampled bowl
You guess was as recently as a few hours ago
A deer’s breakfast, a bear’s luncheon,
Flattened like a nest
Trampled down among arching branches

Here is the heart
Of pain and succulence
You find along the narrow animal trail
You mistook for a human path
Overwhelmed by the scratchy maps
It leaves on your exposed skin as you pass through

As you suck on the just-turned crimson  plunder
In the wake of those first missteps
Off known routes and maps
Coming to a place that is
For just now
Yours alone

You linger
Gather up, gather in
Until you cannot bear to feast anymore
Unless you return with someone else
Offering unexpected bounty

Yet who will follow you
Past all markers into the unknown
For a handful of summer sweetness
And a temporary set of scars
And a blessing stained
Across empty, cupped palms?

Lent Day 26: CELEBRATE

It’s early in the season of Lent to contemplate a word like CELEBRATE, yet that’s the image that rises up in today’s texts. And after all, while people often associate Lent with a solemn time of fasting and deprivation, it can also be a time of lightness and being present. It can be a timing of giving, versus giving up. It can be cause for celebration.

day26Perhaps we should consider why we celebrate. In Joshua, the Israelites mark Passover, which is always a time of remembrance of Exodus, and their liberation from slavery. It is both bittersweet and joyful, it has a sense of obligation and ritual, but it is also an important time of family gathering and community-building.

In Psalms, people are invited to rejoice and shout for joy from a place of righteousness. I would interpret this to mean celebrating once we are in right relationship with God, self, and other people, as well as creation.

Finally, in the parable in Luke, the feast is laid when one son returns after an absence that his family experienced as if it were a death. His homecoming has the element of resurrection in it, a return to life and renewal of connection with everything that gives meaning to his life.

Remember, it’s too soon to say Alleluia … we don’t say that until Easter. Yet we are preparing for this day, for the time when Love overturns death and returns into the world to meet us where we are. Isn’t every communion both a remembrance and a celebration? And doesn’t every meal, shared with others, hold this same potential?

So in this season, celebrate with intention. Celebrate thoughtfully. But do celebrate. This, too, is a spiritual practice.

Excerpts from today’s Biblical passages:

  • Joshua 5: 10 — While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho.
  • Psalm 32: 11 — Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
    and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
  • Luke 15: 31-21 — Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”