Of Faith and Geese

Fall has come quickly to Colorado, moving us to ask our annual question “Where did the summer go?” (We never seem to ask “Where did the winter go?”) Nature does not pay any attention to our timetable – if the hay is not in and the geraniums freeze then so be it. The sunflowers and thistle have gone to seed which causes small clouds of finches to fly in front of me as I bicycle along the roads which are littered with innocent skunks who tried to cross at night. The grasses in our field are now yellow and red-purple and sway in a northwest breeze. Recent rains have dusted the mountain peaks in brilliant snow.

While biking my usual loop around the western edge of town I pass a church with a steeple too modest for the building’s size, looking as though it was put on as an afterthought, like remembering your raincoat as you leave the house on a cloudy day. The steeple leans away a bit from the winds that come from the mountain passes. It is the only visible flaw in an otherwise perfectly bland and box-like church. Surrounding the church are fields where I often pass small flocks of Canada geese feeding in the grasses. I can ride within a few feet of them while they stand perfectly still. They are wary but seem to sense I am no threat to them.

A Foam Print From Long Ago

I have no faith or, I should say, I have no faith left for the edifices and organizations made for a God who seems to have deserted us. Like most human beings who once attended church and have read the Bible, I have questioned the existence of God or whether he existed once and no longer does. I ask myself what if I am wrong about my decision not to believe? In any case, my faith manifests itself in the certainty of the seasons and my belief that our earth is heaven despite our tendency to destroy each other and the environment.

I listen to the low, reassuring calls of the geese to one another, see the protectiveness of the elders for their young and their reappearance with new family members every spring. I watch the formations of geese honking through the morning mists and I am reassured by this enduring pattern of life.

The Geese

The belling of geese foretells autumn
as they fly in that efficient wedge
over the church with the leaning steeple.
This morning they gleaned the sod
under the blue vault of Heaven.
These congregants gather in the field
of late summer flowers, leading goslings
christened in dew, not yet in black collars.
Under feather cowls, eyes of black peer
at We, The People, and watch for Eagle.
The ganders lead the bishops and brides;
the least are priests in this procession.
Soft flutings say “follow me” or “I am here”
calling close their throng of young,
for under lake weeds and muddy murk,
along the shore in high grass and rushes,
lurk mouths that rise and part the waters.
The insistent rise and call of notes,
from brassy honkings to low murmurs,
query and answer back and forth.
The changing light, a frozen dawn –
“Where are you?” is the gander’s question.
One night and they are gone.

Judy Robbins 2013

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About judyrobbinsart

I am a life-long learner and one of those creative types. Love to bike around the neighborhood and I am susceptible to cute animals and hummingbirds.
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12 Responses to Of Faith and Geese

  1. What a beautiful blend of prose, poetry and art. I love your meditative journey through the landscape, your thoughtful reflections on nature, life, belief, your deep observations of the geese – and the skilful weaving together of it all in your vivid and lovely poem. The reassurance you find in the ‘enduring pattern of life’ – the beauty of the here and now, and the ever-renewing – strikes deep chords of recognition for me. Your goose print is lovely.

    Melanie

    • You are so kind, Melanie. I appreciate your coming to my blog very much and I am glad I found yours. I look forward to anything and everything you may write. Such a coincidence regarding your swans and the geese I watch. We also have trumpeter swans here and they really do sound like someone practicing low notes on the trumpet. We treasure our swans. Here is to the enduring pattern. Judy

  2. This post has beauty on so many levels! Thanks for sharing!

  3. ltownsdin says:

    Hi Judy! I loved every line of your poem, and your Colorado piece mirrored my own feelings of being most connected with spirit when I’m in nature. Great print too!

    • Thanks so much for reading, Linda! Really appreciate your interest. That poem has been revised about twenty times but I thought it would be a good time of year to push it out of the nest. The print is one I did in college years ago, using a foam tray from a supermarket. Since then I have gone on to more complex prints but back then I could draw!

  4. drawandshoot says:

    There really is so much to wonder at (and about) in this world. Nature makes it all worthwhile, doesn’t it?
    I like your lovely geese print, Judy. Happy October.

    • I am amazed every day, Karen, just at everything that happens even on my own small plot of land. The goose print was done when I was in college, just made by impressing the lines on a foam tray from the supermarket, inking and printing. Glad you like it, glad I kept it! Thanks for reading, Karen.

  5. Your essay and poem are lovely; they feel like autumn, evoking sounds and whispers that changed when the season slipped in around us. Thank you, Judy. It’s a pleasure to read your musings.

  6. leannegoebel says:

    Lovely poem. I agree with this statement, Judy: “my faith manifests itself in the certainty of the seasons and my belief that our earth is heaven despite our tendency to destroy each other and the environment.” The seasons and cycles of this earth that extend into the seasons and cycles of our Universe and beyond are the most profound evidence of faith in my book and the undefinable notion of meaning and even, dare I say, ‘god.’

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