Abundance in the Scarcity of the Season

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - 5:30 am

Abundance in the Scarcity of the Season

November in the upper Midwest often feels like a “fifth season” to me — different from autumn and winter in ways that are not easily described. But “Praise Song” by Barbara Crooker helps me see that November is about the abundance to be found in certain kinds of scarcity.

It’s in the trees stripped of their leaves, allowing me to see the astonishing intricacy of these everyday companions. It’s in the way life carries on even as the cold deepens and the greenery disappears. It’s in the fact that even a little sunlight can warm me all over, body and soul. It’s in the way the nights get longer, reminding me that (as Roethke wrote) “in a dark time the eye begins to see.”

And, as “Praise Song” makes clear, it’s in learning to praise despite the brevity of my days, to count my blessings no matter how small. As I do, my blessings seem to grow larger…

“Praise Song”
by Barbara Crooker

Praise the light of late November,
the thin sunlight that goes deep in the bones.
Praise the crows chattering in the oak trees;
though they are clothed in night, they do not
despair. Praise what little there’s left:
the small boats of milkweed pods, husks, hulls,
shells, the architecture of trees. Praise the meadow
of dried weeds: yarrow, goldenrod, chicory,
the remains of summer. Praise the blue sky
that hasn’t cracked yet. Praise the sun slipping down
behind the beechnuts, praise the quilt of leaves
that covers the grass: Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum,
Sugar Maple. Though darkness gathers, praise our crazy
fallen world; it’s all we have, and it’s never enough.

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is a columnist for On Being. His column appears every Wednesday.

He is a Quaker elder, educator, activist, and founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal. His books include A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, and Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. His book On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old will be published in June.

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