when i find holy ground in the weedy underbrush …

Manna Meditations, Day 30

I am going to tell you a story, and you will probably not believe me.

I’m deciding that’s okay.


Yesterday, I go out to a place by the river where the orderly, shinier parts of the city give way to rust and refuse.  Most of the houses here hunch wearily with their weight on one hip, as if they’ve been here just a little too long.  The water’s edge is littered with beer bottles and sandwich wrappers and fragments of orange peel.  The trees are spangled with castoff grocery sacks.

I am learning that this can be beautiful, too.


I am also learning to  photograph less.

This is a hard things, sometimes:  not to go out snapping at everything.  There is so much beauty, so much wonder, that it’s easy to get lost in trying to capture it all.

But the Manna won’t really be captured — not by me or anyone.  Not ever.

So I go out and I walk long and I learn to trust that little voice inside myself that says:  “Not yet.”

Or, “still not yet.”

And sometimes: “Right here.  Right now.”


So I walk.

I walk long.

Miles in, I’ve resisted the urge to go chasing beauty at every bend.  I’ve passed by the lean graceful branches of the willows, stretching out to embrace the water.  I’ve passed the beautifully mottled bark of young sycamores, the hard dark lines of concrete bridges kissed by wet green.

And still, no little voice.

But then I go around the next bend, to a place where the trees collapse into the water in a weedy, trash-strewn thicket, clogged with mud and pooled rainwater, and then the voice comes:

“Here… Stop right here.”

So I do.

I stop on a dime, turn forty-five degrees exactly to the left, and walk straight into the thicket, pushing past low-hanging branches.

When I do, three or four paces in, I stop short and find this at my feet:

A holy name.  An old one.  So old, in fact, that it’s been lost to most of us entirely, forgotten.

And now it’s here, carved hard and deep into a fallen branch, as if it had been left there for me to find it.

(Maybe it was.)

And here’s the thing:  you can disbelieve this, if you want.  I wouldn’t blame you.

But maybe – just maybe – your heart could make space for the idea that what I’m telling you is true.  That it matters.  That the message isn’t just for me, but for you, too.

I won’t try to make meaning here.  I won’t clutter this place with my own pontifications about what all this ought to tell you, what you ought to learn.

The holy ground is yours to step into — here, now, if you like…

I hope you do. ❤


  1. I remember once walking through a cold, wintry wood when I came across what I first thought was a plastic bag, snared on the lower branch of a tree. On closer inspection, though, I found that it was a Chinese lantern, according to the message scrawled upon it, sent adrift the night before (New Year’s Eve) in memory of a young child who had recently died. Those quiet woods and those melancholy words . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, goodness. Andy!! What beauty. It truly is humbling, finding these little signs and symbols left by others, and knowing, too, that for us they may become something entirely different than what they were intended to mean.

      Life is a pretty gorgeous and magical place, isn’t it?

      I’ll remember your story for awhile. Thank you for sharing. 💛

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That branch was probably waiting for you. 🙂
    Now whether we believe the story or not is irrelevant.
    Maybe the branch was somewhere else. And that is another story.
    Stories are all around.
    (And yes, it is good to take pictures only with the eyes… I took too many pictures in Asia last december, and I’m working on my memory to restore my own images)

    Liked by 1 person

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