Sitting in the Sacred

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh

It’s still warm enough for crickets to chirp their song at the end of the day, but only just.  Our fall colors are still flirting with the green of summer.  Fall happens slowly here.  You almost miss it, sandwiched between our Midwestern summers and winters which compete every year to be fiercer than the other.  Fall is quiet.  Unlike the famous colors out east, our colors don’t come all at once.   We entertain shades of gold and green and red in the same moment.  Oranges like pumpkins.  Scarlet like the lips of emboldened women.  Yellow leaves reminiscent of gold jewelry worn to be noticed and envied.  All of this beside the slow trees that cling to their chlorophyll, still green into November.  Even lovelier for their slow and steady, almost cautious, pace.

2014-10-17 17.08.37

I walked out to the barn this evening wearing a sweatshirt and jeans; it’s not cold enough to break out my winter things yet, but if I know anything about time and seasons and the Midwest and ranch work, I know that those coats and hats and gloves aren’t as far away as they seem right now.  Acorns crunched under each step; in no time their crunch will be replaced by the crunch of snow underfoot.

The barn was quiet.  Most of the animals, especially the llamas, were out in their fields enjoying the green grass.  I walked down the barn aisle attending to those who required a special dinner.  The quiet of my evening interrupted by the occasional impatient whinny or llama hum.

Twice a day, everyday, this is my world.  Llamas.  Alpacas.  Horses.  Chickens.  Silly little ponies.  A random pet turkey hen who doesn’t really like me all that much.  It comes complete with all the dust, and manure, and work I can manage…plus just enough more to remind me that the work will never, ever actually be done.  It is overwhelming sometimes.  Exhausting sometimes.  Heartbreaking sometimes.

It is also beautiful in ways I still struggle to put to words.

I walked down the lane farther and dislodged a hay bale from my stack.  Hooves pounded the ground, and my horses called to me as I carried a bale out into the field.    Some trotted.  A few cantered.  One sprung into a mad gallop that ended in bucks of pure joy.  I watched and listened.  I will never tire of the sound of hoof beats.  Watching my horses gallop in for dinner will never get old.

But I don’t always watch or listen.

I try to practice mindfulness in my life: taking the time to center myself to my breath, notice what is going on around me, and live in the moment.

I have to be honest, I’m really bad at it most of the time.

I’m a very cerebral person in general, and it’s hard for me to let go of what’s going on in my head long enough to notice what’s going on in front of me.  When I finally take a moment to slow down and notice the world around me, I am most often struck by what I miss out on everyday.

Tonight could have passed that way, like so many others.  But for some reason, instead of quickly tossing hay and leaving my horses to their dinner, I walked around checking in with each of them.  I kissed Phoenix on the nose.  I scratched Morana’s neck.  I said hello to each horse.  Then, impulsively when he came up to me and seemed to offer it, I climbed on Jiminy Cricket’s back.

It’s been a while since I climbed on a horse bareback.

I had no intention of asking him for anything.  This wasn’t going to be a battle of wills; I wasn’t a rider, just a passenger.  He had complete say over where we went.  How fast we traveled.  He wasn’t bothered, settling in quietly to eat hay with his pet monkey on his back.

I sat there while the sun set.  The oak leaves ruffled gently in the breeze and the light glittered between them.  The sunlight played in a way that made me understand why the ancients believed in faeries.

Jiminy felt warm and powerful and gentle beneath me.  He took a deep breath in response to my own, and we settled into this moment in the fall, the light like golden glitter between the leaves, and the sweet smell of hay.

I slid off his back as the light I had been watching began to dim.  The horses watched me leave, and I walked back to the house hearing the crunch of acorns.

And I thought about Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the poet who once wrote that “Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God.”  Most of the time, we miss it, but sometimes?  Sometimes we see the fire.  We recognize the holy.  We sit in the sacred, and we remember, though we will probably soon forget again, that the sacred is always within reach.



18 thoughts on “Sitting in the Sacred

  1. Just beautiful. And perfect timing. I’m sharing, and praying at the same time that everyone will take the time to read and remember that, no matter what, there will always be sacred to sit in. We just need to be still and know.


  2. Your description is what I feel when I work in the orchard. My brain and the crazy talk just goes away. I’m just there, and the work is methodical and soothing. But just “being” is such a gift.


  3. This is a lovely scene and the trees afire in the background of the llamas and alpacas is beautiful. Your farm really is gorgeous despite the fact that you think it does not compare to the trees in New England. If I only I could say that about the area where I live.

    I really like the Browning quote which is so meaningful. We have in my town the Browning Library at the local university. We are fortunate.

    I hope that you will find more evenings to stop and enjoy your animals and the farm,. Whether you realize it or not, you really are a lucky young woman even though the work is hard and heart breaking but as you know, anything worth while will be hard and emotional at times.


  4. Dear Cherity,

    I’m beat. You’re beat. The world is sort of beat, as well. But here we are..writing. Thank God. Thank Goodness. Thank Kindness.

    Whatever you do – and I mean this – you must keep on writing. This blog entry that you have just written: SITTING IN THE SACRED – is fabulous. You write with an authentic voice, full of heart and mind. I would like to share your blog link on Facebook….may I? I want to shout to the world that you have a VOICE that needs to be heard. Let me know if you are comfortable with this..if not, this is completely fine. You may want to wait a while to get used to the power of your voice. Let me know what you want… and if you do not know what you want, I’ll simply wait for you to give me the nod one day. Actually, you can link it yourself, if you want, on the group Facebook page for WOMEN READING ALOUD and then I will chime in..with a huge endorsement.

    Take it “bird by bird.”

    You are a treasure.

    Love, Julie

    Julie Maloney



  5. What a lovely lovely piece of music you have composed with this post. I say music because it reminded me so much of Bach and Vivaldi whom I love. It also reminded me of another poet, Emily Dickinson. She would have understood what you are saying. Sometimes it is just good to sit back and enjoy the present and be thankful.


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