Hidden Majesty

Alas, winter chill,
you cold-hearted soul;
you interrupt my
intake of reverie.

In sweet, sweet sorrow 
I clip the last blooms of fall --
wildflowers glowing in
fuchsia, crimson, burgundy and linen.

This daybreak, just past the first frost,
the browning of burn now
presses their edges.
alas, valiance on display until the very last, 
but for one.

     one

One set of glowing petals peeks from below,
having crept around and under;
its parent stem bent and broken to the ground,
yet, this one has found its way to shine upward.

… diminutive, brilliant, petite and perfect.

Why am I surprised this vine has bloomed so,
has outlasted its fellows 
there in its poverty and low estate?

Why?
In its meekness
Its humility
Its hardship
Its fortitude
All of these and beauty, too.

Why, did I presuppose?
its offering would be less,
its contribution trivial,
overlookable
pitiable
weak.

Look beyond!
the bridal bouquet awaits 
its day at the altar,
its fulfillment in the one
counted out,
now counted upon. 

there.
now

I wanna be that kind of book

I pick the book up from its assigned resting spot and attempt to flip through its pages. Each one sticks to the next. I can’t for the life of me get them separated. I fiddle with the edges. I try and slide the corner. I gather a handful of pages hoping the random shuffle will loosen the page I want. No luck. Thunk, thunk, thunk, go the chunks of text.

Clearly, no one has freed this book from its hot-off-the-presses status. But how… without licking my fingers? Such a Pre-Covid thought, that. In my bag I have a contraband water bottle, perhaps some moisture from that? Or maybe my gloves with fingertips designed to slide a screen would do the trick, but where are the?

Oh good grief. Yes, yes I did it. Surreptitiously, I dot my index finger with a dab of saliva and successfully work one page away from the other. Crinkle, crinkle, slide. There it goes. One page down. Only 373 more to go.

(I had the same experience at Harris Teeter yesterday, trying as I might to release the grip of the plastic bag opening without defaulting to stripping my mask from my nose and mouth and licking my fingers. Suffice to say, after setting my two gala apples on the cart left by the produce manager in order to recruit both hands for the task, I finally gave up and set both the apples and the unopened plastic bag in the bottom of my basket.) But I digress…

Today I pick up the same book from its assigned resting spot, but this one is in a different location. A more traveled location. A more popular spot. This book, I know right away, has had many visitors stop by for a visit. Its pages fall easily, one from the other. Its surfaces are crinkled and easy to grip. Its printed words seem to invite me in:

Look here and over here.
Turn to this page, now that. 
Oh, here's something you'll like! 
Wherever you want to go, I am with you. 
Just as I have been here 
for all those who have sat where you are sitting
and accepted my invitation to excursion through my pages.

I had what seemed an odd thought just then…

I would much rather be this book than the other, the one so seldom opened. I prefer risking a ragged interaction or two to sitting idle in a forgotten corner or at arms reach from an uninterested patron. I would rather be a book that’s read, that’s sung from, that’s paged through. I would rather be dog-eared, crinkled, scribbled upon or even mended after a bout of overly enthusiastic use, than pristine and shimmering, on display in some out-of-the-way spot gathering dust but inspiring no interest, no interaction, no comment.

Yes, me and that Velveteen Rabbit, we’ve done some communing over the years.

A toy, played with, is beloved. Real, even.

A book, read and re-read, beloved, too. Alive, even.

I wanna be that kind of book.

The Parable of the Teacher and her Students

I am but a sower of seeds… to the ones entrusted to me…

Those along the road
come to class and hear the lecture,
but as soon as friends say, "free beer at the frat house!"
they forget about class, drop their notes 
and head out for some fun.

Those along the gravel
listen in class and take good notes,
but there are so many classes and so many notes;
surely they can get by with just a quick review
before the test.

Those in the weeds, well,
they've come to class, listened, taken notes and even read the textbook,
but seeing all their REALLY smart peers, they panic.
All they've studied gets twisted in anxious confusion
and becomes irretrievable on test day.

But...those who've found rich earth,
say, a quiet place at Swem library or a supportive study group in the dorm,
they dive into class notes and textbook
digging deep for full understanding,
even quizzing each other to prepare for the test.

These will reap the highest grades on test day,
harvesting insights and bubbling in correct responses.
Theirs will be a happy day
when I post the exam scores on Blackboard.
And I will be happy, too,
perhaps the happiest of all.

****
Road, gravel, weeds, rich earth,
which of these?
May your way be plain and your soil nourishing
****

The Story of the Seeds 
As told in The Message Bible, Luke 8: 4-14

As they went from town to town, a lot of people joined in and traveled along. He addressed them, using this story: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. Some of it fell on the road; it was tramped down and the birds ate it. Other seed fell in the gravel; it sprouted, but withered because it didn’t have good roots. Other seed fell in the weeds; the weeds grew with it and strangled it. Other seed fell in rich earth and produced a bumper crop.

“This story is about some of those people. The seed is the Word of God. The seeds on the road are those who hear the Word, but no sooner do they hear it than the Devil snatches it from them so they won’t believe and be saved. “The seeds in the gravel are those who hear with enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm doesn’t go very deep. It’s only another fad, and the moment there’s trouble it’s gone. “And the seed that fell in the weeds—well, these are the ones who hear, but then the seed is crowded out and nothing comes of it as they go about their lives worrying about tomorrow, making money, and having fun. “But the seed in the good earth—these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest.
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