West Virginia Morning: Frost

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Early is my favorite time. The way the light comes, like seeping tea, is nothing short of a miracle. I watch sunlight move across the yard and my spirit expands with its steady falling.

This morning, a heavy frost is knit into the earth. The Queen Anne’s Lace in the meadow are crystal sculptures, glistening in the morning sun. It softens the day’s arrival, and I am reminded of Christian Wiman’s words, “[There are] so many ways of saying God.”

When Prince greets me at the fence, the tips of his mane are laced with ice. I have no apples today so he nuzzles an overripe banana, picks strawberries from my palm with his lips. I run my fingers over his nose, dig them under his frozen mane and find the warm, soft there.

“Are you cold, boy?” I whisper in his ear. I’ve considered buying him a blanket to drape over that barrel belly, but I don’t want to offend. What do I know about horses anyway? His owner has a small lean-to set up on the hill Prince shares with the goats. Being a minority, he must leave the shelter early. Surely these animals are heartier than I.

I am thinking about a million things: a friend who will leave soon that I will miss in my heart, my boy’s college applications, a book signing I will be doing this afternoon, the preaching engagement next week, that article I’m editing, plans for the Ash Wednesday service …

Yesterday, when I was talking with one of our patients, he said to me, “I lie awake and thoughts just spin and spin. I cannot stop the worry. How do you stop your mind from churning?”

How do you?

We worked on replacing the worry-thoughts with better ones, and this is what I do—everyone knows you can’t take one thing away without replacing it with something else. So I work on the good thoughts, the noble ones, the lovely and pure. But some thoughts? They need sitting with. They need a poem. Words fall, soft as the Eucharist, and worry is given a new name.

I’ve seen you—
a reflection in a hidden pond,
dipped my hand in
and shattered the beauty

I have tried to cup you
like water, like morning
and you have moved through me
like air and light, like

something that happened
millions of years ago,
milk sweetened with honey or
a dreamless sleep

I run from your eyes and
you keep coming to find me
in the tangled threads of a
thousand worlds

why? why did I not
reach for you long ago? When
time began and the earth
moved slowly?

this is the way the light falls
like seeping tea, blinding
everything in its path, bathing
all in glory.


  1. says

    “light falls like seeping tea.” What a perfect image. Worry? I have no sure fire answer there…..just let go more quickly more often to let my Jesus carry things.

  2. says

    I think if you keep writing poems like that, your thoughts will be just fine.

    A therapist explained that when you do that with poetry, it’s actually pretty advanced stuff (you’d probably know the psychological term for it, but I can’t remember). Reframing, maybe? It gives you a different basket to put it in, one you created. Then the Thing is melded with trying to cup the water, the morning, which is a lot nicer than whatever the Thing is, I’m sure.

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