My head is all in a muddle this week, not knowing which way to turn.

My heart is filled to overflowing, but I can’t tell from moment to moment whether it is filled with joy or sadness, gratitude or grief.

On Saturday, we had a howling snowstorm. Today I am gazing at wildflowers. Either way, everything is filled with beauty.

But I don’t know which way the wind blows, from moment to moment.

Three friends died on Sunday. For each of them, it may have been a blessing. For each of us, a loss. Except insofar as it is a blessing.

Does it have to be one or the other? Love abounds either way.

A baby girl was born on Tuesday, to beloved friends. Sing Hallelujah! A baby boy was born on Wednesday, to more friends. Sing Hallelujah! A third, a girl, is on the way. Sing Hallelujahs!

Such glorious news! I don’t know — are we living in a time of death, or in a time of new life?

The prophet Isaiah says,

I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise. (Isaiah 43:19-21)

I am doing a new thing. Now it springs forth! Do you not perceive it?

What I perceive is how beauty and love are One. In Beauty, a spring snowstorm startles us. In Beauty, a violet seduces us.

In Love, we say farewell to our beloveds. In Love, we greet new life. Love and death entwined, as One I perceive them.

The old passes away and the new springs forth. In grief, we send love to the old that is leaving. In joy, we greet new life, and offer blessings. In gratitude and in grief, as One I perceive them.

Beauty and Love and Death are gifts so entwined that I cannot tear them apart. Gratitude and Grief are my thanksgivings.

May you go in Beauty,
May you come in Beauty.
May you go in Love,
May you come in Love.
May you go in Grief,
May you come in Gratitude.
May you know
the Divine One,
the Source of All.
Sing Hallelujah!

from the poustinia,

Rev. Steve


Stephen Blackmer

Stephen Blackmer is founding executive director of Kairos Earth and chaplain of Church of the Woods. Steve comes to this with 30 years of conservation experience, having founded and built conservation organizations including the Five Rivers Conservation Trust, Northern Forest Alliance and Northern Forest Center.

A midlife shift led him to Yale Divinity School and ordination as a priest in the Episcopal Church, carrying the question in his heart and mind: “How can being a priest deepen my work to conserve the Earth? What does the Christian tradition have to offer to this work? How can the Christian tradition be re-understood and re-imagined in a time of need? How can the conservation movement recover its understanding of the Earth as holy ground?