“He sits at the window”

Images of the earth are always stirring! The beauty of photographs from space over decades have fueled imagination many times over. Satellite photography reveals much to us, and offers a warning regarding the spoiling of the delicate balance in which our earth hangs within a complex solar system. “Earth Day” draws attention for a moment but the sustainability of the earth will require ongoing daily attention. Louis Gluck was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature and was cited “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.” Her poem “Before the Storm” is not in itself an “Earth Day” poem but it does raise important issues. Within the work the reader is accused of doing nothing, despite all the signs, and displays so little if any foresight. Take your time as you read her lines, and in particular pay attention to her use of “mountain” which exists to remind us of the earth itself. We are caught today in so many storms and storms are still coming and the “world as it was was cannot return. ” Are we to sit at the window and just look out?

Before the Storm

Rain tomorrow, but tonight the sky is clear, the stars shine.
Still, the rain’s coming,
maybe enough to drown the seeds.
There’s a wind from the sea pushing the clouds;
before you see them, you feel the wind.
Better look at the fields now,
see how they look before they’re flooded.

A full moon. Yesterday a sheep escaped into the woods,
and not just any sheep—the ram, the whole future.
If we see him again, we’ll see his bones.

The grass shudders a little; maybe the wind passed through it.
And the new leaves of the olives shudder in the same way.
Mice in the fields. Where the fox hunts,
tomorrow there’ll be blood in the grass.
But the storm—the storm will wash it away.

In one window, there’s a boy sitting.
He’s been sent to bed—too early,
in his opinion. So he sits at the window—

Everything is settled now.
Where you are now is where you’ll sleep, where you’ll wake up in the morning.
The mountain stands like a beacon, to remind the night that the earth exists,
that it mustn’t be forgotten.

Above the sea, the clouds form as the wind rises,
dispersing them, giving them a sense of purpose.
Tomorrow the dawn won’t come.
The sky won’t go back to being the sky of day; it will go on as night,
except the stars will fade and vanish as the storm arrives,
lasting perhaps ten hours all together.
But the world as it was cannot return.

One by one, the lights of the village houses dim
and the mountain shines in the darkness with reflected light.

No sound. Only cats scuffling in doorways.
They smell the wind: time to make more cats.
Later, they prowl the streets, but the smell of the wind stalks them.
It’s the same in the fields, confused by the smell of blood,
though for now only the wind rises; stars turn the field silver.

This far from the sea and still we know these signs.
The night is an open book.
But the world beyond the night remains a mystery.

Compassionate and loving God, 
you created the world for all of us to share, 
a world of beauty and plenty.
Create in us a desire to live simply,
so that our lives may reflect your generosity.

Creator God, 
You gave us responsibility for the earth, a 
world of riches and delight. 
Create in us a desire to live sustainably, so 
that those who follow after us 
may enjoy the fruits of your creation. 

God of peace and justice, 
You give us the capacity to change, 
to bring about a world that mirrors your 
wisdom. Create in us a desire to act in 
so that the pillars of injustice crumble 
and those now crushed are set free.  Amen. Live Simply Linda Jones CAFOD

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