A Glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom
Here are a baby monkey and a lion cub playing together, with two young tigers snoozing nearby, at the Guaipo Manchurian Tiger Park in Shenyang, China. Human babies and other young beings of different species often accept one another easily, whereas suspicion and animosity are usually something “you’ve got to be carefully taught.” Perhaps that is why “A little child shall lead them”. . . .
Editor’s Corner Essay:
Linked Oppressions: Privilege vs. Stench
The links between the oppressions of humans and of animals are not news, but it is always helpful to increase our awareness of both. Not only does being able to speak thoughtfully of human oppressions equip our minds and widen our hearts, it helps to show human-rights activists and others that we cannot be dismissed as one-issue people, unable to care or talk about anything but animals. We human animals are bound together with all the other kinds.
The world has often been seen as divided between the privileged and those deprived of privilege. In fact there are in some cases a large gray area between them, middle classes of various sorts. But in societies with an extreme imbalance of power-- where the privileged humans are very few, very wealthy, and very powerful while the vast majority are oppressed, exploited, and subject to violence, one factor that usually separates them is the presence or absence of bad smells.
Stench, Past and Present
“Like the Foul Stable,” in the December 2011 Peaceable Table ( PT 83 ), dealt with the uncomfortable fact that one of the elements in the Nativity story of Jesus’ birth in a stable--an element that is nearly always omitted from discussions and artistic treatment--is the fact that animal sheds of all kinds invariably include nasty sights and smells. Nowadays, in the vast animal death-row prisons confining thousands of innocents condemned since before birth to be killed and eaten, the stench is so horrendous as to sear the victims’ lungs, and probably contributes to the rather high rate of those who die even before the reaching the slaughterhell.
This issue of foul smells points up one of the areas of overlap between oppressions. Before running water and machine-powered transportation, people commonly used animals, especially horses, as mounts or hooked them up to pull the vehicles in which they traveled or transported goods. A few of these animals were cherished, but for the most part draft and other “domestic” animals’ lives were grim, as typified in the expression “England was a hell for horses.” The jobs of driving them (in all weathers) and caring for their physical needs, including the particularly obnoxious one of cleanup, was usually relegated to poorly-paid, “low” people, grooms and stable “hands.” Small-hold farmers, who themselves had to do the driving and tending of “their” animals, were also “low.” Butchers, surrounded by both stench and blood, were and are held in contempt as “low” by those who approved and paid for the products.
In Western cultures, leisured gentry and aristocrats employed “low” servants, most of them ill-paid, to take care of the work of their households, including disposal of their garbage and excreta. Whether these servants were fully human was often questionable; they were usually invisible, and marriage of a gentry or aristocratic individual to virtually any of them was unthinkable (though of course they could be raped with impunity, and one of them who was accused of raping a “real” person might face death). In countries where chattel enslavement of humans was an integral part of the economy, race and class exploitation largely coincided; for centuries, Black lives have emphatically not mattered.
In the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries and into the twentieth, people who made their living by factory work, with its long hours and small pay, crowded into dense cities where they lived in jerry-built houses and apartment buildings sans plumbing. The poor usually lacked time or energy to carry in more water than just enough for drinking and simple cooking; they had no servants to carry in bath water, wash their clothes, or carry out their excreta (nor, often, any place except the street to dispose of it), and the upper classes disdainfully referred to them as “the Great Unwashed.” They stank; their neighborhoods stank. (In 1850s London, a series of breakdowns in the inadequate and aging sewer system emptying into the Thames culminated in an unusually hot, dry summer that caused the river to run low. The result was the Great Stink of 1858. The horribly foul air in central London invaded the nostrils of the wealthy and powerful, including Parliamentarians, and not just the poor. The result was creation of a greatly improved sewer system, most parts of which are still functioning, and a much-cleaner river.)
As the twentieth century advanced plumbing was extended even into the homes of working-class people, beginning probably in the 1920s in some areas. In The Road to Wigan Pier, 1937, George Orwell describes the smell among working-class persons and “tramps;” officers in the British military in WWII were shocked by the smell of working-class inductees. Recovery was of course slowed in Europe by the vast destruction the war caused. But most working-class folk now can take bathrooms, deodorants, and access to washing machines for granted.
Homelessness and Holiness
Nowadays the poorest of the poor among humans are “the homeless” (seldom “homeless persons”), the ones regarded by many as semi-human. Some of them manage to keep clean and wash clothes in public bathrooms; some regularly use the showers provided by shelters. But many, especially the mentally ill, may do neither, and consequently smell bad. Knowing from the averted eyes and other gestures of avoidance by the public that their presence is unwelcome, homeless persons in many cases must keep on the move voluntarily or be uprooted by police. When most people in a culture do not smell, is being free from offensive odors still a privilege? To most of us in the washed majority, it doesn’t feel like it, perhaps because we so seldom think of it.
Just as homelessness among humans arouses contempt and sometimes even criminalization, among “food” animals it is also effectively criminalized. Those few who succeed in getting free from transport trucks or slaughterhells, despite being innocent of any crimes, are treated like escaped convicts from Death Row (which, in a sense, they are) and are subject to murderous attacks and arrest by police and other authorities, as though armed and dangerous. One big difference from human prison escapees is that refugee animals arouse widespread sympathy among the public, and thus some lucky ones, when captured, are cherished and taken to shelters rather than being returned to high-security prisons and execution. In keeping with their status of being bred to be killed in adolescence, common language usage even denies them the dignity of gender and consciousness. If a pig is “it” even while alive, the horror of killing her to procure the “it” of a ham is barely a blip in human awareness. Her death is, as Carol J. Adams taught us, “the absent referent.”
Probably the two most highly-regarded religious figures in Western history are Jesus of Nazareth and Francis of Assisi, both of whom chose homelessness following a divine call to devote themselves to preaching God’s nonviolent peace and infinite love for all, from the highest to the lowest--including, for Francis and perhaps Jesus, animals. Holy men though they were, they were still fully human, which means that sweat and grime built up on their bodies from walking dusty roads in hot weather. They sometimes encountered streams in which they could bathe and wash their clothes; ancient Palestine also had pools for ritual purification. But when night after night found them in waterless areas, and they had not been invited to stay at the homes of supporters, they would have no chance for washing, as well as “nowhere to lay [their] head.” We may well wonder whether well-groomed devotees throughout history who revered statues and pictures of them and imagined themselves into those scenes, would really have wanted to come near and listen, even venerate them, on the days when they stank?
For centuries most of those in the West with means called themselves Christians and attended churches, but Jesus’ servant-action of carrying in water and washing his disciples’ dirty feet before the Last Supper, together with a command to his friends to do likewise, very seldom “took” among them. They stayed in their own space where, thanks to their servants, the air was fresher. The Great Unwashed remained unwashed.
The word “privilege” comes from Latin words that originally referred to the creation of laws applying only to one special person. The term has long been applied to to a small minority who get unfair advantages that in justice they ought not to have, favored treatment that is denied to the great majority of the population. Prime examples are people who are born to vast wealth, or gain it by exploitation and/or violence. Of course privileges are not all of this sort; some can be earned, such as the right of a person who has won a race or other sports competition to wear a medal; some that are in fact determined by birth, such as the right to wear a particular Scottish plaid, might not even interest most persons. Goldmedal.jpeg
But we are concerned here with those that do matter to many or all. The right to an education, especially college education, traditionally was a privilege which males with wealth and property kept to themselves. But in the last two centuries in the West, the “Women Not Allowed” signs have gradually come down, changing the association of this privilege with its small-minority status. It is still varyingly linked to gender, money and class; persons of working-class background may have so poor a grade- and high-school education (not to mention lacking funds) that college is out of reach. Lower-class persons who do enter colleges and especially graduate schools will usually encounter psychological hurdles that create additional stresses for them, and lead to chronic anxiety that is hard to deal with because its source in class barriers is never mentioned (as I know from my own experience both in college and grad school). Barriers to women are not all gone, either; we women are doing comparatively well in the humanities, but the sciences, technology, engineering, and math are still largely male-dominated.
Even more crucially important than access to higher education is the one of fair or unfair treatment by the police and the justice system, an issue both of class and race that has existed for centuries. Once unseen by most, it has become glaringly visible to nearly all the reading public in recent years, thanks to an unending stream of news stories of unarmed Black men being shot by police with virtual impunity, on any street but perhaps even more in lower-class neighborhoods. On paper the US justice system is fair to all persons. But over and over again, investigations show that people of color and those living in poverty fare much worse in the courts than those who are moneyed and White. Correspondingly, the imprisoned and the executed are Black and Latino, and/or poor, out of all proportion to their percentages of the population, and have been for many years.
Increasing awareness by most US residents of this issue, and many other areas of unfair treatment by class and race, has resulted in widespread use of the term “white privilege.” This is another instance where the associations of the word are changed, with the privileged being in the majority. It also differs from the traditional meaning of the word in that the privileged do not have advantages that by right ought to be largely taken away from them and given to the many others. Rather, the better-off should maintain the benefits in question, but those benefits urgently need to be extended to all those unjustly denied them.
How relevant is majority or minority status to being privileged? How wide a range of conditions can the term cover? Would it be accurate to say that all we human animals, whether our lives are mostly wretched or mostly gratifying, are privileged because millions of us are born into relative freedom--and not, like billions of farmed animals, born into lifelong, crowded, stinking confinement, the dates of our terrifying executions already set? Can the term apply alike to the healthy White child born to loving millionaire parents, and the abandoned White person trapped in an inner hell, homeless, hungry, and reeking?
Clearly it is not easy to find the courage to see clearly and speak honestly of the evils so many living beings endure, in language accurate both in denotation and connotation, what it refers to and the feelings it arouses. Sometimes we need to look for new terms. Perhaps most important of all is for those who Care to have the courage to take wise and compassionate action on behalf of the ones we are called to help, those denied the privileges that are really rights.
--Gracia Fay Ellwood
The lead photo is from Maggie’s Farm The reference to working-class smells in Orwell’s book is from pages 128-31. For the stresses faced by working-class persons moving into the middle class or academia, see Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams by Alfred Lubrano.dreamstime_4436279-copy.jpg
Birds make great sky-circles
Of their freedom
How do they learn it?
They fall, and falling,
They’re given wings.
“Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.”
--Jesus, in Luke 22-27 (New Living Translation)
Steer Escapes Live-Transport Ship
A bovine headed for a slaughterhell abroad jumped ship near Fremantle, western Australia. After vanishing from sight for some time, the refugee was spotted by a sea-rescue operation and nudged to shore. After disappearing again, he was eventually captured by rangers in Fremantle; but where he ended up was not reported. See Big Swim
--Contributed by MFA and Mashable
Animals Win Elections in Two States
Two outcomes of the November election ballots favor our animal friends: Question 3 on the Massachusetts ballot will outlaw the extreme forms of farm animal confinement. Question 777 in Oklahoma, which would have prohibited any restrictions on factory farms, was defeated. The beasts still have a very long way to freedom, but any step on that journey is welcomed. See Win
--Contributed by MFA
Pioneer: John Wesley, 1703 - 1791 Many Christian animal advocates are unaware that they/we have an important pioneer and model in John Wesley, founding father of a major denomination. Wesley was co-leader of the renewal movement in the Church of England that (despite his intent) became the separate Methodist denomination; he was a vegetarian or “Pythagorean;” he was also distressed about the suffering of animals. The connection between his diet and his concern would seem obvious, but just what the connection was during much of his life, we cannot be sure. One modern critic, Colin Spencer (in The Heretic's Feast), in fact asserts that Wesley's vegetarianism was wholly a matter of ascetic self-denial. It is true that he had ascetic tendencies and is not known to have urged others to take up his diet. In a letter in which he responded to criticisms from the Bishop of London, he reports that he even went back to eating meat for two years in order to show certain critics that it was not a moral issue with him. But he adds that on the advice of his physician, George Cheyne, he resumed his vegetarian diet, with permanently happy results for his health. (Cheyne was himself a colorful and weighty pioneer on behalf of the animals--see Cheyne in PT 38.) johnwesley.jpg
That letter to the bishop was written in 1747. In November of 1781 Wesley preached the remarkable sermon "The General Deliverance" (“general” meaning universal), whose message makes it hard to believe that, at least at that point in his life, his compassion for animals had nothing to do with his diet. And though he still does not urge his audience to stop killing and eating them, his vision here of the shared ultimate destiny of humans and animals in the presence of God is quite incompatible with the human killing of animals for food.
Unlike William Wilberforce and some other leaders of the reforming Evangelical movement, who focused on change in the government and the upper classes, Wesley and his hymn-writing brother Charles brought their message of God’s love, together with works of mercy, to the disregarded and neglected working classes. Wesley traveled thousands of miles on horseback and preached several times daily, sometimes in the open air; his long life of eighty-nine years, in often-rugged conditions, may well owe something to his meatless diet.
Here are some excerpts, stressing God’s generous compassion for animals, from “The General Deliverance”:
"Nothing is more sure, than that as "the Lord is loving to every man," so "his mercy is over all his works;" all that have sense, all that are capable of pleasure or pain, of happiness or misery. In consequence of this, "He openeth his hand, and filleth all things living with plenteousness. . . . He provideth for the fowls of the air, "feeding the young ravens when they cry unto him." "He sendeth the springs into the rivers, . . . to give drink to every beast of the field," and that even "the wild asses may quench their thirst." And, suitably to this, he directs us to be tender of even the meaner creatures; to show mercy to these also. "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn" . . . .
"But how are these Scriptures reconcilable to the present state of things? How are they consistent with what we daily see round about us, in every part of the creation? If the Creator and Father of every living thing is rich in mercy towards all; . . . if he wills even the meanest of them to be happy, according to their degree; how comes it to pass, that such a complication of evils oppresses, yea, overwhelms them? . . . .
"What was the original state of the brute creatures, when they were first created? . . . . They were endued with a degree of understanding; not less than that they are possessed of now. They had also a will, including various passions, which, likewise, they still enjoy: And they had liberty, a power of choice; a degree of which is still found in every living creature. Nor can we doubt but their understanding too was, in the beginning, perfect in its kind. . . . .
"[After the Fall, both wild and domesticated animals] are exposed to the violence and cruelty of him that is now their common enemy,--man. And if his swiftness or strength is not equal to theirs, yet his art more than supplies that defect. . . . He pursues them over the widest plains, and through the thickest forests. He overtakes them in the fields of air, he finds them out in the depths of the sea. Nor are the mild and friendly creatures who still own his sway, and are duteous to his commands, secured thereby from more than brutal violence. . . . Is the generous horse, that serves his master's necessity or pleasure with unwearied diligence, -- is the faithful dog . . . exempt from this? What returns for their long and faithful service do many of these poor creatures find? And what a dreadful difference is there, between what they suffer from their fellow-brutes, and what they suffer from the tyrant man! The lion, the tiger, or the shark, gives them pain from mere necessity, in order to prolong their own life; and puts them out of their pain at once: But the human shark, without any such necessity, torments them of his free choice; and perhaps continues their lingering pain till, after months or years, death signs their release. . . .AnimalHeaven_.jpg
"But will "the creature," will even the brute creation, always remain in this deplorable condition? God forbid that we should affirm this; yea, or even entertain such a thought! While "the whole creation groaneth together," (whether men attend or not) their groans are not dispersed in idle air, but enter into the ears of Him that made them. While his creatures "travail together in pain," he knoweth all their pain, and is bringing them nearer and nearer to the birth, which shall be accomplished in its season. He seeth "the earnest expectation" wherewith the whole animated creation "waiteth for" that final "manifestation of the sons of God;" in which "they themselves also shall be delivered" (not by annihilation; annihilation is not deliverance) "from the" present "bondage of corruption, into" a measure of "the glorious liberty of the children of God. . . ."
"If it be objected to all this, (as very probably it will,) "But of what use will those creatures be in that future state?" I answer this by another question, What use are they of now? . . . . If there are six hundred sorts of birds, who can tell of what use five hundred of those species are? . . . . Consider this; consider how little we know of even the present designs of God; and then you will not wonder that we know still less of what he designs to do in the new heavens and the new earth. . . .
"[T}he preceding considerations. . . may encourage us to imitate Him whose mercy is over all his works. They may soften our hearts towards the meaner creatures, knowing that the Lord careth for them. It may enlarge our hearts towards those poor creatures, to reflect that, as [lowly] as they appear in our eyes, not one of them is forgotten in the sight of our Father which is in heaven. Through all the [futility] to which they are now subjected, let us look to what God hath prepared for them. Yea, let us habituate ourselves to look forward, beyond this present scene of bondage, to the happy time when they will be delivered therefrom into the liberty of the children of God. . . ."
--Gracia Fay Ellwood
Book Review: Farm to Fable
Robert Grillo. Farm to Fable: The Fictions of Our Animal-Consuming Culture. Danvers, MA; Vegan Publishers. 2016. Paperback, $14.32.FarmToFable.jpg
In this remarkably well-written and well-argued book, Grillo shows lays bare the deceits and fictions that underlie the massive exploitation and abuse of animals for food. Early in life, children see images of farmed animals as free-roaming and happy. When children recognize that the meat on their plates came from animals they like, parents typically explain that there is a fundamental difference between pets and farmed animals. If that doesn’t quell the revulsion children typically experience, the threat of no dessert is often sufficient to get the child to conform to social norms. Then, throughout life, billions of dollars are spent annually to extol the supposed benefits of eating flesh and animal secretions. Further, trade groups spend huge sums of money–a significant proportion of which comes from taxpayers–to mislead the public regarding animal husbandry standards and the health effects of consuming animal products.
Grillo explains how a public eager to have its food preferences and a clear conscience at the same time readily accepts patently false fictions, for example that animals are treated “humanely,” that animals consent to their abuse, and that dying for human consumption gives dignity and importance to an animal’s life. Grillo debunks these and a wide range of other fictions. While Grillo supports measures that reduce the severity of abuse, he rejects the notion of “humane meat.” For starters, nearly all farms that claim to raise animals “humanely” actually submit animals to high degrees of pain, stress, and deprivation. Importantly, nearly all farms kill animals in adolescence or early adulthood, and these animals seek to live as fiercely as we do.
Grillo stresses that eating animals is, for almost all of us, a choice. From a practical standpoint, it is easy to find sustenance through healthy, nutritious, tasty vegan foods. However, there is a challenge that Grillo largely ignores. To be vegan is to reject the fictions that comfort meat eaters. This can lead to social isolation from those who want to believe the lies.
Admirably, and I think wisely, Grillo calls for “truth-centered advocacy.”
--Stephen R. Kaufman
Children’s Book Note: Skunked!
Jacqueline Kelly. Skunked!: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 106 pages, 2016. Hardcover $15.99 ($9.49 Amazon), $22.99 in Canada.Skunked.jpg
The brave and wise Calpurnia Tate, aspiring young scientist living in Texas at the turn of the twentieth century, has been the star and hero of two full-length books: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate. Now a series of shorter books appears; Skunked! is the first. Calpurnia is not the hero of her own adventure this time; the hero is Travis Tate, Calpurnia's little brother. He rescues and adopts two cute orphaned kittens who turn out to be baby skunks, and upon whom he bestows the melifluous names Stinky and Winky. This compassionate act is--from an adult perspective--most injudicious, and predictably disastrous. I will not give you any spoilers, but I must tell you that sweet little Travis proves himself worthy of his name, which his parents chose in honor of Lieutenant Colonel William Travis, (morally ambivalent) hero of the Alamo. Travis Tate proves to be as brave, heroic and self-sacrificing as Colonel Travis, but emphatically not as truculent or ferocious. The child is rather an avatar of Radagast the Brown and the beloved saint of Assisi.
Calpurnia, despite her better (i.e., more prudent) judgment, helps Travis as much as she can. She learns what to feed the baby skunks: they are omnivorous (not totally carnivorous, as I had thought) and will eat fruits, vegetables, eggs--but of course must begin with milk. Calpurnia learns the useful formula for washing off the skunks’ stink-bomb: 5 parts hydrogen peroxide, 5 parts baking soda, and one part sweet-smelling soap.
We recommend this book to all children and adults, especially those who may have had an encounter with skunks. Readers are likely to be charmed, and look forward to reading the whole series, as I do.
Recipe: Green Bean Casserole
• 1 and ½ lbs. fresh green beans trimmed into bite-size pieces
or 2 cans (14oz. each) cut green beans, well drained
• 2 T flour (unbleached all-purpose wheat; rice or soy)
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp onion powder
• 1 and ½ cups plain unsweetened non-dairy milk
• 1 T tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
• 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire Sauce
• 3 T Better Butter (from my cookbooks) or vegan margarine
plus additional for “buttering” the casserole dish
• 1 and ½ cups finely chopped white mushrooms
• 1 and ⅓ cups French-fried onions (from canned – French’s™ are vegan) – or make your own, the recipe and technique follows this recipe
• sea salt or kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
If using fresh green beans, steam or
boil the beans for about 20 minutes or until tender. Drain thoroughly and set aside in a large mixing bowl. If using canned green beans, drain them thoroughly and set aside in the mixing bowl.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly “butter” a casserole dish with the butter or margarine and set aside.
In a small dish, measure the flour, onion powder and garlic powder; set aside.
In a measuring cup, measure the non-dairy milk and add the tamari/soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce; set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter or margarine. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the excess liquid has evaporated from the mushrooms. Transfer the mushrooms to the mixing bowl with the green beans and set aside.
In the same saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine over medium-low heat and whisk in the flour mixture. Continue to stir for about a minute. The mixture will be very thick and pasty. Don’t be concerned if the flour sticks to the bottom of the saucepan as it will loosen when the milk mixture is added.
Slowly whisk in the milk mixture until smooth, add a pinch or two of black pepper and bring to the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer an additional 2 to 3 minutes. The mixture will have a somewhat thin consistency; this is desirable as it will thicken when the casserole is baked. Taste and add salt to your liking and additional black pepper, if desired. Remove from the heat.
Gently toss together the cream mixture with the green beans, mushrooms and ⅔ cup French-fried onions in the mixing bowl. Transfer to the casserole dish.
Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling around the edges. Gently stir and top with the remaining ⅔ cup onions. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.
• 2 or 3 large or 5 medium sweet yellow onions
• unsweetened non-dairy milk for soaking the onions
• 1 and ½ to 2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
(try the first batch and adjust the salt to taste)
• ground black pepper
• pinch of cayenne pepper
• 1 and ½ cups unbleached all-purpose wheat flour
• vegetable oil for frying
Mix the flour, salt, and ground peppers in a large bowl. Slice the onions and separate into rings. Soak the onions in the milk.
Heat about ½-inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer.
Dredge the onions in the seasoned flour. Give them a good coating of flour. Place the onions into the hot oil in the skillet. Don’t try to do all the onions at one; just one batch at a time.
When the onions begin to brown around the edges, turn them over and cook an additional minute or so (they cook very quickly!) Remove the rings and lay them on a paper bag or paper towels to cool/drain. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container for topping your casseroles.
A classic holiday favorite.
--The Gentle Chef (Skye Michael Conroy)
Note: The Gentle Chef is offering a free download of a number of tempting holiday recipes, of which this is one. See Gentle
Poetry: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788; John Ciardi, 1918-1986
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
Come, thou long expected Jesus, Born thy people to deliver,
born to set thy people free; born a peasant, yet a king,
from our fears and sins release us, born to reign in us forever,
let us find our rest in thee. Now thy gracious kingdom bring.
Israel's strength and consolation, By thine own eternal spirit,
hope of all the earth thou art; rule in all our hearts alone,
dear desire of every nation, by thine all-sufficient merit,
joy of every longing heart. Raise us to thy glorious throne.
Charles Wesley wrote this Advent hymn long before his brother wrote “The General Deliverance.” At the time, by “born thy people to deliver” Charles probably meant only humans; might he have enlarged that intention after hearing or reading John’s sermon?
What lifts the heron leaning on the air
I praise without a name. A crouch, a flare,
A long stroke through the cumulus of trees,
A shaped thought at the sky--then gone, O rare!
Saint Francis, being happiest on his knees,
Would have cried Father! Cry anything you please,
But praise! By any name or none. But praise
The white original burst that lights
The heron on his two soft kissing kites.
When saints praise heaven lit by doves and rays,
I sit by pond scums till the air recites
Its heron back. And doubt all else. But praise.