I did not see them coming.
If so I would have prepared.
I would have made the trees grow steel-resistant bark
with roots to grasp the deep rock of the mountains and
tops to catch the stars.
I walked out through the woods and when I returned
they were there.
The trees were burning and the hole was there.
It happened so quickly.
I turned my head for the briefest of moments.
I was watching a leaf fall.
I saw the pileated woodpecker fly.
I heard the wind caress an oak.
I missed their coming and suddenly the hole was there.
My eyes were wet from the smoke.
Walls. A roof. Floors. The hole is covered but still there.
The bird flies in circles.
The wind seeks its friend.
The leaf cannot find its way to the ground.
And I sit here like a stone afraid to turn my head again.
From Advent Retreat “Waiting in the Dark” December 12, 2003