The Generous Green, December 23

Poem and Reflection #4 in a series for Advent, 2020

Photo copyright Michelle Lane, 2019

In the snowless, winter woods
all but the hardiest green is gone.
It gathers at the ground,
the vibrant moss

around knuckled roots
of gray-brown trees,
lining crevices in old bark,
on the bodies of fallen comrades.

Here and there
it graces the air
shining gossamer
in high conifer branches.

Gratitude rises in me
for the blessing
of these green pines and firs
standing tall and slim

between bare and bony limbs
of maple, oak and hickory,
leaves long gone
to the earth.

Photo copyright Michelle Lane, 2019

Grateful for
radiant winter sun,
when it comes angling
through airy woods;

Grateful for
the wind’s soft voice today,
free and gentle
in the open spaces;

Grateful for
the way starlight may shine
so brightly down in the long night
that will soon be here,

a clear light, beyond
any clouds that come to the sky,
harbinger of a generous
greening in the heart.

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I wrote this poem last year on December 23, 2019, during a time of great personal difficulty and upheaval. I was at a low point in the days before Christmas, heavy with grief and worry over my father and my mother who were both seriously ill. I was also feeling oppressed by some other challenges in my life.

As Christmas approached, I was not feeling the joy. This is not an unusual feeling for people. Depression often deepens during the holiday season as family tensions and grief over losses are compounded with the stress of trying to create the “perfect holiday.”

As is often the case for me, I took to the woods. This nearly always orients me toward the core of what matters. As I walk in the beauty of the forest I sense the loving presence of God all around me, within the wonder of life in every season. It is a grounding and clarifying experience.

This year, the stress and grief people may feel is compounded by the existential crisis of this COVID19 pandemic. Many people are missing loved ones, in great financial difficulties, ill, grieving losses, and full of anxiety. We are collectively within an immensely difficult time.

I have no suggestions other than to hope some kind of human or spiritual support might be found and to invite you to find your compass point, something that enlivens you toward love and beauty. Try to identify what you are grateful for, even the very small kindnesses of your days like the ray of sunlight that comes in your kitchen window. Get out of your house and go someplace where you might be reminded of the smallness of humanity in the bigness of the universe. I say this not to diminish us, but to expand us out of our earthly troubles.

The brilliant starlight that is so visible on clear nights in winter, is light that shines in the darkness. It is there even when the sky is obscured by clouds. Imagine a greening in your heart. Bring into being your own generosity in what you might offer to others at this time. Gifts that do not cost money.

The troubles will probably not go away just because it is Christmas, but the Light within you is always there, even when it feels darkened. You might just need some kindling.

Teacher, writer, poet, student, earthling; theopoetic acorn chewer, intent on uncovering meaning

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