Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A Flower's Tears

The flowers I was contemplating.

I had a great idea (or so I egotistically thought) for a justice/politically-minded post last week that would have pleased many of you, but I decided “what the world needs now,” as the song goes, is Zen! Last Wednesday and today I am revisiting two posts that are Zen-like in orientation, one from 2018 and this one from 2016. I pray they bring peace to our troubled souls!

I had just read a quote from landscape artist Thomas Cole: “Nature has spread for us a rich and delightful banquet. Shall we turn from it? We are still in Eden; the wall that shuts us out of the garden is our own ignorance and folly.”

A woman on public radio announced Beethoven’s pastoral sonata, #15.

Then I heard something drop. I looked up from my tablet and realized the bouquet of flowers in front of me was losing petals. The before-dawn early morning was so quiet I could hear a petal fall.

This prompted me to compose this poem:

A flower’s tears
are the dewdrops
that drip, orb by orb,
as sun rises.

A flower’s tears
are the raindrops
that stream, string by string,
as storms rage.

A flower’s tears
are the petals
that drop, one by one,
as life renews.

I was sitting at our dining room table, a very solid oak sturdy-legged altar that once served as Wade’s grandfather’s butcher block. Long before we met, Wade had painstakingly sanded (and sanded) and refinished this table that seats four and can be extended by way of built-in leaves for eight just as comfortably. On all five windows of the pentagonal room hang patterned stained-glass, framed in various shapes in wood whose peeling white trim contrasted with the colors of their homes that no longer stand.

The morning I write this, I rose so early that my usual place for morning prayers was too dark to read, so I chose this alternate sanctuary.

And then I read: “Henri taught me that the characteristics I had identified with religion are just the outer circle. What really matters is a fundamental attitude of seeking to do something that is valuable to yourself and to the world.” Henri Nouwen’s nephew Marc van Campen wrote this in Befriending Life: Encounters with Henri Nouwen.

Moved by awe at this magical moment, I thanked God that life is filled with such opportunities to experience the world “as if for the first time” and then to express that mystery in writing, in art, in service.

“Nature has spread for us a rich and delightful banquet. Shall we turn from it? We are still in Eden; the wall that shuts us out of the garden is our own ignorance and folly.”

I will be leading a virtual, at-home retreat open to the public for Columbia Seminary’s Spiritual Formation Program September 17-19, 2020 entitled An Open Receptive Place: Henri Nouwen’s Spirituality. You are invited!

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Copyright © 2016 by Chris R. Glaser. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite. Other rights reserved. 


  1. I am new to this website and your blog. I notice you seem to have few comments (I've only looked at two of your blogs!) and if that's true it saddens me. Your points are well made; your writing has a luminous quality I rarely find. Light - not heavy. Light - happy, enlivening. Light - giving insight. Light - illuminating. Lightening - lifting. Luminous, well, simply lovely prose. And poetry. Many thanks, Chris.

    1. Thanks, Karen. Yes, though visitors and subscribers are plentiful, rarely do they enter comments on the blog itself. Subscribers tend to respond to me directly to my email which is the sending address that the subscription service uses. I am touched by your thoughtful and heartfelt description of my work! Thank you again! You've made my day! BTW, I just now published your comment because I often take weekends off from the internet. Sorry for the delay.