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From brooding skies belch handfuls of snow, etching tree trunks with lacy fingers, rounding shrubs with capes of ermine, and obscuring remnants of brown leaves mashed against fence posts. Winds rollick flakes in a centrifuge with a no turn-off switch.

Hours pass. Darkness encroaches this boisterous play. Within the halogen glow of street lamps, snow-swirls waltz to the strains of an invisible orchestra. Silence hushes this wintry phenomenon with wordlessness. And still it snows—throughout the night. With daylight comes a gradual surcease. Only traces of snow meander upon the white world, until finally exhausted.

Such displays reveal the white fire of an Unseen Presence beautifying the sordid, igniting our senses, and stirring our imaginations.

We are grateful.

 

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Drizzle hiccoughs through lowering clouds that resemble circus elephants at play.

Occasional splats on my slicker intrude upon the stillness and quicken my breathing. Languid breezes muss my hair, and my nose twitches with smells of musk. Alive to the freshness around me, I pause.

A solitary crow caws, as it flaps its wings against the leaden sky and soars to the upper reaches of an evergreen. Ahead of me, the slick asphalt road snakes around the bend, lined with a grove of yellow bamboo. Heaps of luminous leaves by the curb, their stems upended, smack of exhausted gymnasts after a tournament. A few whole acorns, unlike others crunched by passing cars, draw the toe of my sandal.

I resume walking, slowly—So much to take in—In the distance looms a mustard- yellow maple; from its brown-to-black-divided trunk articulate mothering branches that offer more inspiration, more protection—Droplets hug shriveled leaves of shrubs—A calico cat darts for cover in a nearby yard—Glistening jack-o-lanterns grin from front porches, and spent chrysanthemums brown and list sideways in gardens.

In every cell of my being subtle rhythms resonate: within them, I surrender, anew, to the multiple changes occurring within and around me. I give thanks.

 

 

 

She hiked herself upon the seat of the ladder-back chair and grabbed a mound of pink clay from the tub on my dining room table. Her head bowed, her red hair swishing the sides of her round cheeks, she set to work. Small hands kneaded the clay, stubborn under her touch. She worked harder. Her freckled nose twitched as she rolled it flat on the table, one side, then the other. She hunched back in her chair and inspected the results, then rolled it out again.

Finally satisfied, her narrow fingers fashioned the flattened piece into what appeared to be a container. Her work continued. Again, she reached into the tub and pulled out an orange piece. After having smoothed it, she shaped it into a circle, a process she repeated with lavender, blue, and yellow clay. Next came narrow green strips of clay she rolled into tubes; upon them she mounted the circles.

“I need a toothpick,” she said to her mother and grandmother, looking on and smiling. One emerged from the tub. With deft fingers the young artist inscribed her message, I love you, from Mary, then offered me her creation: the pink vase with summery flowers.

Such was the fruit of Mary’s industry, my six-year-old great-granddaughter who was visiting from her Minneapolis home.

Her love offering reminded me of a striking parallel found in the prophet Isaiah: “You are our Father; we are the clay, You our potter, we are all the work of Your hands.”

May we be willing to participate in this daily kneading. It’s about letting go of the kinks in our instincts and thriving.

 

 

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