Two River Poems: Emily Dickinson & Sara Teasdale

My River Runs to Thee, By Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

My River runs to thee—
Blue Sea! Wilt welcome me? 
My River wait reply—
Oh Sea—look graciously—
I’ll fetch thee Brooks
From spotted nooks—
Say—Sea—Take Me! 

The River, By Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)

I came from the sunny valleys 
And sought for the open sea, 
For I thought in its gray expanses 
My peace would come to me.

I came at last to the ocean 
And found it wild and black, 
And I cried to the windless valleys, 
“Be kind and take me back!”

But the thirsty tide ran inland, 
And the salt waves drank of me, 
And I who was fresh as the rainfall 
Am bitter as the sea. 

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A River of Migrants


The fall 2018 migrant caravan seeking to cross into Mexico from Guatemala.

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Rivers of Lava


Lava streams down from the Anak Krakatau (“Child of Krakatoa”) volcano during an eruption as seen from Rakata Island in Lampung province, Indonesia, on July 19, 2018.  From The Atlantic, 2018: The Year in Volcanic Activity

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Ralph Waldo Emerson, The River

The River

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803 – 1882

And I behold once more
My old familiar haunts; here the blue river,
The same blue wonder that my infant eye
Admired, sage doubting whence the traveller came,—
Whence brought his sunny bubbles ere he washed
The fragrant flag-roots in my father’s fields,
And where thereafter in the world he went.
Look, here he is, unaltered, save that now
He hath broke his banks and flooded all the vales
With his redundant waves.
Here is the rock where, yet a simple child,
I caught with bended pin my earliest fish,
Much triumphing, —and these the fields
Over whose flowers I chased the butterfly,
A blooming hunter of a fairy fine.
And hark! where overhead the ancient crows
Hold their sour conversation in the sky:—
These are the same, but I am not the same,
But wiser than I was, and wise enough
Not to regret the changes, tho’ they cost
Me many a sigh. Oh, call not Nature dumb;
These trees and stones are audible to me,
These idle flowers, that tremble in the wind,
I understand their faery syllables,
And all their sad significance. The wind,
That rustles down the well-known forest road—
It hath a sound more eloquent than speech.
The stream, the trees, the grass, the sighing wind,
All of them utter sounds of ’monishment
And grave parental love.
They are not of our race, they seem to say,
And yet have knowledge of our moral race,
And somewhat of majestic sympathy,
Something of pity for the puny clay,
That holds and boasts the immeasurable mind.
I feel as I were welcome to these trees
After long months of weary wandering,
Acknowledged by their hospitable boughs;
They know me as their son, for side by side,
They were coeval with my ancestors,
Adorned with them my country’s primitive times,
And soon may give my dust their funeral shade.


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Two Bridges in Winter

Image may contain: sky, tree, cloud, bridge, outdoor, nature and waterTwo bridges spanning the Androscoggin River connecting Brunswick to Topsham.  In front is the pedestrian-only Swinging Bridge, a suspension bridge originally built in 1892.  Behind is the Black Bridge, a 1909 Warren Through Truss Bridge constructed to carry rail cars on a top level and automobiles on a lower.

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How Am I a Christian?

December 1, 2018

“How am I a Christian?” is the title of an article I have in this month’s Friends Journal.  Here’s a snippet from the piece:

One of the Advices in the New England Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice reads “Make space in your daily life for communion with God and for spiritual nurture through prayer, reading, meditation, and other disciplines which open you to the Spirit.”

By no means do I confine this ongoing spiritual nurture to those who self‐identify as Christian. I do not doubt that many who call themselves Jews or Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus are on roughly the same journey and have much to teach me. Still, I read more from those who have identified themselves as Christians, especially those that know at least as well as I do the whole catalog of horrors. I find myself part of a company of Christians over the ages; I have elected to join a tradition of spiritual nurture. At various times in my life, Rufus Jones, Thomas Kelly, C.S. Lewis, the Book of Common Prayer, Marilynne Robinson, Howard Thurman, Mary Rose O’Reilley, and Henri Nouwen (to name just a very few) have fueled my spiritual journey.

You can read the whole article here, and the rest of the articles in the issue, all on Quakers and Christianity, here.

Here’s the closing:

It is from the best of those who have called themselves Christians; it is in their company that I find I learn the most. And that is why, today, I think of myself as a Christian.

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Cathance River, November 2018


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