“The Essential Generosity of Nature,” Dennis Overbye

“And heaven and nature sing”
(Joy to the World, Isaac Watts, 1719)

It’s Christmas Eve, 2020, and chances are you don’t feel like singing. But why not? My friend Pastor John would say for us to think about the Joys we can list. Even one would work, and I have two I’ve been saving for when I really need them. That’s today. Not just for me. I’ve got family, friends, and memories of those circled around me at my writing table, 4:00 a.m., each somehow placing their spirit hands on my shoulders, touching my cheek. It’s okay for you not to believe me. You can focus on Lucy laying her muzzle on my thigh. I know she sees my ghosts, all good. 

I had hopes of sharing Lucy with you. Lucy, the perfect Therapy Dog. It didn’t work out: She failed Puppy Kindergarten racing throughout the training center with another pup chasing her. She failed Obedience Dog Training TWICE, not because she did not know and couldn’t execute every command, but because she is an Australian Shepherd who decided to leap on the middle-aged lady administering the tests (both times, same lady) and slather her with dog kisses. And my thinking fourth time would be the charm, we suffered through Therapy Dog training. She was perfect for six weeks. Then came the final exam. We don’t want to talk about it. The instructor retired after this session.

This is Lucy’s Christmas Card to you.

So, enough rambling. Back to the two Joys Lucy and I have saved for you: I call them “Found Poems.” This one is a paragraph from Dennis Overbye’s New York Times article “This Solstice, Solace for the Darkness” (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/18/science/christmas-star-jupiter-saturn-conjunction.html):

A Joyful, Found Poem
By Dennis overbye

Lately a barred owl has come to live
in my Manhattan neighborhood.
Nicknamed Barnard after the college
a block away, it has become a local celebrity.

I saw it most recently in an old knotted elm
on the edge of Riverside Park, surrounded by
admiring humans with smartphones
and telephoto lenses. A flock of crows
kept trying to chase it away.

For me, Barnard has become an omen,
a harbinger of the essential generosity
of nature in the low, slanting light of winter,
a reminder that there is more going on
in this world than just us.

Even if the crows or the worsening weather
causes Barnard to depart,
I will feel blessed to have seen it.

The second joyful, found poem is from an email sent to me by my famous writer friend Mary Lyn Ray (Isn’t it always good to have famous writer friends?):

To Attend The Light: A Found Poem
by Mary Lyn Ray

I need to just attend the light
growing smaller, then returning.

As prelude, yesterday afternoon late,
Biscuit and I went out gathering balsam,

so now there is some December in the house.
And that helps bring a stillness I am hungry for.

And here is Biscuit:

Mary Lyn’s Biscuit

And Lucy, with her woodland pals, wishes you the generosity of nature, its joy available to the world: