Reverent agnosticism

mariposas reposadas

sufficient comfort

Photo by Becky Jaffe

Saving Grace

Saving Grace

Photo by Becky Jaffe

the Entanglements of Home

entanglements of home

Photo by Becky Jaffe, Art by Bird

Collage by Bird

collage by bird-3

Photo by Becky Jaffe

The bird that built this nest is no mere architect, but an artist. Beauty and intelligence are woven into the fabric of existence.

Potential energy

Ire 3

gospel of the Great Blue Heron

great blue heron emphasis on greatPhoto by Becky Jaffe

Fractal

fern and fan palmThe leaf is the original solar panel. I photographed this fern frond through the underside of a fan palm to illustrate the different space-filling models plants have evolved to maximize their photosynthetic capacity; both the fractal pattern of the fern and the pleated sheets of the fan palm are mathematically efficient arrangements for harvesting light energy to manufacture sugar. Photosynthesis is beautiful.

picturesque

picturesque

Photo by Becky Jaffe

What I am supposed to be doing: Taxes.
What I am actually doing: Lurking in a drainage ditch, ogling egrets and daydreaming about the gods and evolutionary biology.
What I am supposed to be thinking about: our material net worth, measured in dollars.
What I am actually thinking about: our immaterial Net Worth, the immeasurable.

 

Transmogrification Studies

B's Triptych wFrm

Photos by Becky Jaffe

When I brought home a branch of wild fennel and stuck it in a vase in my living room a month ago, I harbored the tiny hope that it might contain hidden in its foliage a microscopic egg. When I discovered a plump lime-green caterpillar (left photo) marching across my rug searching for fresh food two weeks later, I harbored the small hope that she might survive long enough to pupate. When she folded herself into a tiny green hammock (middle photo) and fell into a deep slumber, I harbored the small hope that I might be present to observe her emerge.  When I awoke on my birthday and found her pulling her last leg out of her decayed chrysalis (right photo), I traded in my small hopes for big awe. When she popped open her wings and sailed out the window a few hours later, I threw my small hopes after her and caught a whiff of faith on the updraft.

I was fortunate enough to take these photographs of her successive transformations to share with you.

Thank you for Taiyo Lipscomb for compiling these three images into one frame. Thank you to Soji Odukogbe for being my companion in wonder.

Wallflower

WallflowerPhoto by Becky Jaffe

Hum

sitting meditation

 

Photo by Becky Jaffe

 

What to do when you find a field full of snails

snail field

Photo by Becky Jaffe

What to do when you find a field full of snails: Stay for a while. Grow your eyes. Notice new tones of yellow. Watch the wind chase the light through the reeds. Look at each spiral in turn, even if it takes all day. With any luck, it will take all day. Seriously consider sympathizing with every climbing, clinging thing.

Bask

BaskPhoto by Becky Jaffe

Gesture

orchidPhoto by Becky Jaffe

 

animated suspension

animated suspensionPhoto by Becky Jaffe

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.” – Iris Murdoch

the marvel is in the mundane

shorebirds in flight

Photo by Becky Jaffe

“The sacred is in the profane; the holy is in the quotidian; the wonder is in the world.” – Sam Keen

The whole referring

12504473833_dcec8d6014_o

Photo by Becky Jaffe

Miracles

by Walt Whitman


Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet
and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the
ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

It suffices

hummingbird flare-4

Photo by Becky Jaffe

Long Afternoon at the
Edge of Little Sister Pond

As for life,
I’m humbled,
I’m without words
sufficient to say

how it has been hard as flint,
and soft as a spring pond,
both of these
and over and over,

and long pale afternoons besides,
and so many mysteries
beautiful as eggs in a nest,
still unhatched

though warm and watched over
by something I have never seen –
a tree angel, perhaps,
or a ghost of holiness.

Every day I walk out into the world
to be dazzled, then to be reflective.
It suffices, it is all comfort –
along with human love,

dog love, water love, little-serpent love,
sunburst love, or love for that smallest of birds
flying among the scarlet flowers.
There is hardly time to think about

stopping, and lying down at last
to the long afterlife, to the tenderness
yet to come, when
time will brim over the singular pond, and become forever,

and we will pretend to melt away into the leaves.
As for death,
I can’t wait to be the hummingbird,
can you?

~ Mary Oliver ~

I have the right to remain silent

the right to remain silent

Photo by Becky Jaffe

Mysteries, Yes

mysteriesyes

Photo by Becky Jaffe

Mysteries, Yes

by Mary Oliver

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

what would do?

chaos and grace II

Photo by Becky Jaffe

And, if you have not  been enchanted by

this adventure —

your life —

what would do for you?

– Mary Oliver

Excerpt from To Begin With, the Sweet Grass

small, available things

hummingbird

Photo by Becky Jaffe

Summer Story

by Mary Oliver

When the hummingbird
sinks its face
into the trumpet vine,
into the funnels

of the blossoms
and the tongue
leaps out
and throbs,

I am scorched
to realize once again
how many small, available things
are in this world

that aren’t
pieces of gold
or power——-
that nobody owns

or could but even
for a hillside of money—–
that just float
in the world,

or drift over the fields,
or into the gardens,
and into the tents of the vines,
and now here I am

spending my time,
as the saying goes,
watching until the watching turns into feeling,
so that I feel I am myself

a small bird with a terrible hunger,
with a thin beak probing and dipping
and a heart that races so fast

it is only a heart beat ahead of breaking——
and I am the hunger and the assuagement,
and also I am the leaves and the blossoms,
and, like them, I am full of delight, and shaking.

the Egret is an Exclamation Point

white stroke in the dark

The great Great Egret is like an exclamation point, the enthusiastic flourish at the end of Hallelujah!  Upright, she is the little ‘i’ in the middle of delight. She is the lithe ‘i’ in the heart of alive, the trinity of ‘i’s inside divinity.

the Egret is a Question Mark

great egret by the riverside-2

The great Great Egret is like a white question mark in the dark, a punctuation point for the riddle of existence. With her whole body she quizzes the shoreline on the vast ontological mystery. The weeds lean in to offer up their mute answer, practiced in the pedagogy of silence.                             Photo by Becky Jaffe

“Sometimes I am that madcap person clapping my hands and singing; and sometimes I am that quiet person down on my knees.”  — Mary Oliver

morning poem

Photo by Becky Jaffe

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

~ Mary Oliver ~