About Blue Heron

My wife and I became members of the Community in 1975. We had come to the Community prior to that time on various retreats from our church in Connecticut. I landed an elementary teaching career in 1976 and taught in that same school until 1999. We raised two sons (now married) who are both now professed members of the Community. We have three grandchildren and three granddogs. I continue to work in the public school teaching science on a part time basis, and also serve as advisor and part time teacher for a group of parents who homeschool in the Community. My wife works as a dental assistant. Life in the Community has expanded my borders far beyond what I would have imagined. Over the years I have sung with the choir, participated in Gregorian Chant, served as chalice bearer, made stained glass, been part of a writing group, built sets for Gilbert and Sullivan productions and sung in them. The list goes on. I cannot think of a better environment to raise a child. And I cannot think of any place that would have challenged more, and kept me moving forward as a Christian father and husband. I have been over my head and lifted above the waters. I am looking back in gratitude, and forward in hope.

Winter is Waning

by Blue Heron

Winter is waning, and we see it in longer days, dew rather than frost on car windshields in the morning, and birds beginning to sing morning melodies. I sighed this morning as I walked out the front door and saw the lawn under cedar tress carpeted in crocuses. More a promise of Spring, because I am sure we will have another cough of winter before it decides to retire.

It is not the cold of winter that I find hard; but the lack of light. Winter has such a limited vocabulary; gray and grayer. I feel a little like the groundhog awakened from his winter nap, squinting in the sunlight. Part of me has been underground for a long time. Spring ushers in a renewal of energy. The sap in me is flowing stronger. I start planning projects for the yard, and even enjoying the morning alarm announcing a new day. I am not so sophisticated. It is foolish for me to thinking myself above other living creatures who are at the mercy o the seasons. We are all together cradled in a rhythm of season that touches our moods and longings.

It is in deep December, near the shortest of days, that we celebrate his birth. Often he comes at my lowest point bringing hope, with promises of a time when things will be better. The darkness of a winter season makes us realize the value of light.

Croci

Look at the birds of the air

By Blue Heron

The long mosaic of the Tree of Life at the Church of the Transfiguration has its roots at the Font, and then stretches East with its massive trunk and branches. The Tree embodies meaning on multiple levels; but for today it represents my own pilgrimage in daily life toward a distant heavenly city.
Sounds glorious in theory, but there are days when my day is less than glorious. I walk toward the altar haltingly, perhaps wounded from my own actions, or reactions; not quite so certain of my welcome.

Often, when I take myself too seriously, the Holy Spirit swoops down to intercede with a little humor. The trunk of this immense tree is covered in branches. And these branches carry all manner of birds; clothed in a myriad of colors and designs. All perky, and preened on the branches, I almost expect to hear them burst into song.

Thus, I am distracted from myself as I recall the beauty of God’s creation. A beauty that is not impersonal or disembodied; but as in his creation of birds, there is an imbedded invitation, an opportunity to let joy and forgiveness undergird all of my life — not just the times when I have done what I should. Good morning, chickadee and cardinal. Hello there, kingfisher and merganser. And fat robin, no shortage of your favorite worms. I return your greeting.

Snowy Egret, detail of mosaic processional path, Church of the Transfiguration, Alessandra Caprara

Little Friend – a poem for today

little friend if you truly knew me
would you look up so expectantly
so hopefully, if you knew
my limited strength, my weaknesses
my need, would you sleep so calmly
in my lap, conformed to the circle of my arms

you run ahead of me
in so many ways, you want to
let me know what is fun
you want me to let go of the day
and join you in this moment

and when you stray off in silly passions
you bear my imperfect correction
with avid repentance

my little friend you teach me all
of what you know, free of learning
free of arduous study and heavy doctrine
with your eyes and your wagging tail
your tongue-licks of minute assurances
you speak the truth knit in your bones
and so we go together, my friend,
into this good day.
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Sometimes a Light Surprises

 
Sometimes I not not know how to fix
what is broken
All I know is that I have pulled back
inside my shell.
 
My wife gives me a few things to do;
and I do them, not because I love following directions;
in fact it takes some effort to close my mouth from reciting 
a list of excuses for why this might not be the best time.
I just get into motion and do them.
 
Somewhere along the way I notice a ray of hope springing up
inside myself. These few little things I am doing have cracked open
the walls of my barricade. I am starting to feel a little
softer inside.
 
 

Beech Forest

 
a path that wanders through the dunes
roots of old beech trees protrude
from hillsides. 
this little woods is a way station
to warblers on their spring migration north.
Today a way station to me.
 
As I walk along, I shed off the clamor of daily demands
and put on the lovely garment of solitude.
The air is filled with the varied vocabulary of birds;
painted turtles slowly crane their necks to see
who walks by. Proud geese parents let their 
goslings approach for a handout of seed;
a few ponds with Lilly pads reflect nearby trees and clouds.
 
Dear Lord, be my solitude
as I must leave this place;
like the tiny warbler let me fly quickly
and alight on your outstretched arm.
 
  

About Walls

 
It does not take much for me to put up walls. When I was a young boy I used to help my father build walls in our yard. I would struggle to select a stone and carry it over to see if he could use it. We worked for hours; often with very little conversation. It was one of the few ways I felt close to him. 
 
I am still building walls, but their intention is often to hold people off. The truth is that my walls do not protect me or ensure my safety, and I could easily end up walling myself into a prison of my own making. Some of my walls have been there a long time. They are encrusted with lichen, and not just adornment on my landscape. They have been there long enough to become my earth. And so it may take time to dismantle these walls. But stone by stone, they begin to slip off. I say let process continue. May my walls come tumbling down.

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Web of Life

by Blue Heron

Web of Life

rabbits in the evening
do-si-do on emerald lawn
the whole yard daffodill
and peonies
with garnish of dandelion
their salad
 
young goldfish
endlessly circumnavigate the pond
while solitary kingfisher
perched on willow branch
sees fish as entree or appetizer
 
web of life
intricate, deliberate
each animal perfectly suited for a niche
I seek to nestle into my own.
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A Thread of Longing

 
A thread of longing
petals drifting down from cherry trees
in slow motion
so their beauty slides off gently
we do not see a moment of passing.
 
and so, in our lives
our youth slips away in increments
so small
that youth still flickers
like a candle flame on the living room wall.

and then one day
with some sadness
we realize we have crossed
a certain threshold
and shall not have opportunity to reenact
the same events.

From one view we diminish
but in another
we embody an album of rich memories.
We have been formed into something more valuable
than all our doing and imagining.

I wonder what Jesus would have thought
if he looked back on his own experience?
Would he have paused at the suffering of the cross?
Or would he have settled for the gain?

As I reflect over the years,  I see some frayed threads
in my tapestry. Perhaps even some places where the
needle needed to be re-threaded.. But I do sense a common thread;
a strand of longing, a filament of gold that  occasionally surfaces
along my way.  Jesus is persistently at work in both my knowing
and unknowing.
                                         blue heron

 

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Life of a Crab

 
A narrow strip of sand running along the edge of the marsh grasses. Here the tide comes and goes. The fiddler crabs have surfaced again after the winter and are busy scampering sideways over the sand; excavating their houses. As I walk along they feel the vibrations of my steps and flee into their holes, leaving just of the tip of a claw visible at the entrance. Looks like a no trespassing sign to me.
   
Fiddlers are such amazing creatures. Their eyes swing up and down on little poles. The males have one extra large claw for bravado. This claw is also the source for their name because it looks like they are dragging around a large fiddle. What struck me today is that the fiddlers live in a colony, actually quite close to each other; yet they seem to operate as individuals. This may be ignorance on my part, but they move around each other without any acknowledgement of one another, and when danger approaches; it seems to be every man out for himself.
 
I have a tendency to act a bit crabby myself. I live in the midst of a colony of fellow Christians but I can still resort to living alone, withdrawing into my little hole. When you live in close proximity to others reality is never very far away. Sometimes I raise up my big claw and wave it around to let everyone know that I am not a push over. But I find that sitting alone in my hole is not what it used to be. I use to crawl in, put up my claws on the ottoman, and wait for the tide to come in. But I am learning; still crabbing but learning. Much  to learn; much to appreciate.
 
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Easter Reflections

by Blue Heron

A few lilies still remain in the small chapel. Their fragrance lingers along with visions of the empty tomb. Each year we rehearse the suffering and dying of Jesus on the Cross, followed by the hope that springs from what His dying did for us. Each year for me, the cycle of Lent and Easter runs deeper. This year that cycle is running deeper than I would choose. I find myself pursuing habit patterns that hurt others and separate me from God. I get angry, I feel like running. I hate to see these things, and I know I can’t change myself. All I can do is bring myself as I am to the cross, and ask God to change my heart. That is a choice I can make when I’m tempted to feel sorry for myself, or discouraged.

There is a little bird that keeps returning to the window and pecking hard against the glass. I am sure there is some biological reason for this behavior. But all I see is his getting a sore head, and going nowhere. Like him, I could continue to try the same things that didn’t work in the past and expect them to produce new results. But I am determined to move on into the unfamiliar territory. The usual solutions don’t work anymore. The old clothes don’t fit. I am listening…