#75-The Silver-bellied Geese and the Manure

This week I’m reminded of an experience a friend recounted several years ago, after a fall visit to the prairies.

My friend wrote:

“After a restless night, I was frustrated, so I headed out the door for an early morning run down rough dirt farm roads.  It was an astonishingly beautiful morning, the rising sun in the east, and the full moon still in the western sky.

Old Greeting Card – Source Unknown

“Endless flocks of geese flew overhead. One particular flock flew low into the sun, and the light caught their bellies and underwings and turned them a blazing silver colour.

“I also ran between huge, stinking piles of manure – not once, not twice, but four times.  As I returned to my lodgings I wondered:
What am I going to believe in?
The silver-bellied geese or the stinking manure?”

“So many times I still wonder if the manure will win out,” wrote my friend.

“Will my cousin survive her debilitating disease with spirit intact?
Will I be able to do what I think I’m being called to do?
Will trust outlast fear?

“I know I’m not always going to make it to the top of the manure pile to see the silver-bellied geese fly by,” my friend concluded.

“But that moment reminds me to live in the paradox…
To take the risk of choosing beauty…
To walk through fear…

“To trust in God’s loving preservation deep down under…even on days when
I don’t quite believe it.

“Love is there… It’s waiting for me…for all of us.”

Yes indeed, I thought upon reading this once again. But some days it’s not easy.

Some days it’s not easy to walk through our fear, whatever that fear may be.
Some days it’s not easy to risk choosing beauty.
Some days it’s not easy to trust in God’s loving preservation deep down under.

Some days it’s easier to believe in the stinking manure pile, and to miss that gorgeous flock of silver-bellied geese.

It’s for this reason that I value the work of spiritual directors, poets and many others who invite us to pay attention, to notice the astonishing (or ordinary) beauty all around us, and to let that beauty nourish our souls.  Perhaps sometimes that beauty even tips the balance.

Published by Beacon Press

Mary Oliver puts it this way in her poetry collection entitled Red Bird. A poem entitled “Sometimes” includes this stanza:

“Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

My friend and Mary Oliver help me risk choosing beauty.  I enjoy sharing the beauty I find with you, my blog readers.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What helps you risk choosing beauty?  How do you share it with others?
  2. What helps you pay attention and be astonished?

Next week: TBA

7 thoughts on “#75-The Silver-bellied Geese and the Manure

  1. I guess arguably poop is also beautiful to some people, which astonishes me, but for me it is still a stretch. Sharing beauty, for me, includes sharing both the poop in life without judgement or censure but with compassion as well as sharing what appears or feels more beautiful. Having someone to share with is also an important aspect, for me. I know of a master gardener who is a hermit and prefers to keep to themselves which is to say, not to meet others in person. However the person meets all who enjoy the garden- enjoying the blossoms, the pond with koi and turtles, the texture and placement of the variety of plants, the birdsong and butterflies attracted to this space. Being there is being in a very personal poem, for me.


  2. Thank-you Sue for your honesty in admitting “sometimes it’s not easy …..”. I can relate.. Thank-you also for the reminder to “pay attention, to notice the astonishing (or ordinary) beauty all around us and to let that beauty nourish our souls”. Your blog has been such a blessing to Henry and me! .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sue, I so enjoy the thinking that your beautifully and thoughtfully provoking blogs take us; how you use/arrange language is also so nourishing. I look forward to your blogs!


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