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Outside my study window, atop January’s hoary stubble, roiled menacing blacks, iridescent greens and blues, glinting in the morning sun. I shuddered. The scene resembled the threshold of Hades. Then, I remembered: grackles—I’d seen them before, scavenging overflowing dumpsters in upscale alleys, roosting in oak trees near turn-of the century residences in the Central West End.

As if snapped away by a magician’s cloak, the birds were gone. Still swamped by this intrusion, I blinked in disbelief, yet knew I had work to do.

With reluctance, I researched grackles with their yellow eyes and tiny black pupils, their large claws and scalpel-beaks and fan-shaped tails. Even the word grackle sounded guttural.

Other contributors, however, had differing impressions: colorful, intelligent, aggressive, resourceful, playful, adaptive, and at home within swarms. Like winds pommeling gates on rusted hinges, grackles’ cawing was unique to them. Again, I looked out the window at the backyard, long empty of the menace and reminded myself that grackles, too, are part of God’s creation.

That I still I felt uneasy plunged me into the cesspool of my prejudices: uninformed, spontaneous, unthinking reactions, activated by the morning’s grackles. Decades of unconscious living, with my eyes wide open, had harmed others and myself—had jaundiced my perception of life and kept me split off from Creator God.

So entrenched are these prejudices, though part of the human condition, they cry out for Mercy! I still need cleansing.



After graced stripping, the heart remains solitary, resilient, obedient.




Never have I been so awake, so full of purpose, and so filled with gratitude. Thanks for learning with me …



Winterlight is like a calico stalking the bands of darkness. Winterlight is like a city pigeon hovering over cathedral spires. Winterlight is like a solitary cardinal preening atop a plank fence.

Winterlight is like the sapphire mantel of a nurturing mother. Winterlight is like the warming blanket toasting a surgery patient. Winterlight is like brittle chocolate smarting the palate.

Winterlight is like a warrior gentling over ice-strewn riverbanks. Winterlight is like a grandfather’s joshing with a gummy-faced toddler. Winterlight is like the hesitant first kiss of lovers.

Its strange beauty inflames spirit …




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