“Poetry is the language of the soul, expressing what would otherwise be inexpressible...helping us know things that would otherwise be unknowable. One of the surest signs God and I are talking is that it starts coming out in poetry!” Ruth Haley Barton
Sabbath in Late Fall
Sometimes on the Sabbath
all you can do is
settle into the soft body of yourself
and listen to what it says.
the exhaustion that is deeper than tiredness
the hunger that is for more than food
the thirst that is for more than drink
the longing for comfort that is more than physical.
On the Sabbath
body and soul reach out for time of a different sort
time that is full of space rather than activity:
time to watch the burning bush in your own back yard…
the movement of the wind among bare branches…
the last leaf clinging to the branch before its final letting go.
Letting go is hard,
letting go of that which no longer works
that which no longer brings joy and meaning
that which is no longer full of life.
It seems cruel
That something that used to be so beautiful
should fall to the ground
sinking into the earthy mud along with everything else that is dying,
no longer recognizable for what it used to be.
It seems cruel but it is the way of things.
One generation gives its life for the next.
One season slips away so another can come.
One crop of fruit falls from the tree so that more can be borne.
One wave recedes while another gathers strength to crash upon the shore.
It seems cruel
but it is the rhythm of things.
And rhythm has its own beauty.
Ruth Haley Barton, 2006
the garden is spent
having given it’s all.
Cucumber vines lie exhausted on the ground
Tomato plants list to one side
Cornstalks stand dignified and empty
Sunflower faces droop earthward,
shades of their former selves.
All that has not been claimed lies moldering in the dirt—
a bruised tomato, a forsaken pepper…
a misshapen pumpkin, a trampled stalk of beans.
What came from the earth is returning
to the place from whence it came.
There is an intimacy here,
in the fall garden,
gazing at living things in their demise.
I want to avert my eyes, avoid this tender grief.
Is this life or is this death? I cannot tell.
Ah, but there is a beauty here
amid all this death and dying.
To have given one’s self fully
at least once
that is the thing.
To have spent oneself in an explosion of color
to have offered one’s body for food,
one’s very soul for nourishment…
It is an unseemly generosity,
beauty of another kind.
the garden says, “This is my life, given for you.”
And we are fed.
Ruth Haley Barton, 2012