By The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

Barbara Crooker wrote this autumnal poem of praise, a season I hardly want to emphasize here in the depth of summer (sweater weather is fine, but I love long stretches of sweltering summer days). That being said, the poem has a rhythm of praise that we can easily adapt for this current moment. Maybe today we’d write, “Praise the light of mid-summer, fireflies and sky streaked with the soft glow of Neowise comet.” I find that practices of gratitude and praise can be healing in these days when the news is a litany of lament and we cannot escape the impossibilities of the coronavirus. 

After this Sunday’s worship service focused on the spiritual practice of mid-pandemic lament, you might resonate with her poem called Grief, or this COVID-19 related poem she wrote for Garrison Keillor’s Pandemic Poetry Contest (though, as the texture of this pandemic shifts and changes week to week, it’s easy to tell that poem is from months ago). Her poetry often gravitates to the spiritual, and she won awards like Thomas Merton’s Poetry of the Sacred, and is published in the Christian Century.

May you find your own way into praise today.

Let us pray:

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
—Barbara Crooker, b. 1945