Seeing Up Close

by  Chris Koellhoffer, IHM   May 8, 2022 

Spring, wherever and whenever she makes an appearance, is a breeding ground for mystics. There’s a palpable invitation to live close to the earth with an ear to the heavens, to see, with heightened clarity, how the Holy is all around us in our everyday lives. As we pull out the rakes and shovels, broadcast the seeds, and dig our hands into the holiness of dirt, the elements of worship converge. How can we not live as mystics during this season when what was once buried is rising to new aliveness?  

I have my own early formative memories of spring as the wonder of sacred soil shaped my life from a tender age. What memories do you hold of yours? If you lived in a city without garden space, did you have access to a park or community garden? What might you have discovered in those common spaces? What learnings came to you from your solitary adventures or those shared with friends?

If you lived in a suburban or rural area, what everyday experiences can you claim as yours? Perhaps the barely contained delight of picking out a few seed packets at the garden store. The careful preparing of the planting, with at least a few earthworms cheering you on. Each morning’s excitement as you anxiously checked rows of seedbeds for signs of brave sprouting. And then, finally, the mystery of earth cracking open, tiny leaves emerging, the wild greening of a patch of soil. Enough to make you fall down in worship. It still is.

In spring, it’s especially easy to affirm Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem that, “the world is charged with the grandeur of God.” That grandeur is most demonstrative in this season of greening. There’s something deeply connecting about putting our hands into the rich, fertile ground which we and all creation share. Something primordial and ancient as we reflect on our ancestors, on other feet that have walked the same paths, other hands that have cultivated and dreamed about the same dirt. Something profound in knowing ourselves in kinship with a universe far beyond our small corner of the world.

Hopefully, these deep connections have invited us to move beyond a worldview of dominance to one of caretaking and then on to one of kinship with the entire created world. To live into an understanding that Earth and her creatures are not an “it” to be managed by us for our own needs. To knowing in our very bones that the fuzzy bumblebee, the cheery daffodil, the insistent cardinal, all of us created by the same hand of the Holy, are charged with healing and enhancing lives beyond our own.

Julianne Lieberman, Unsplash

In this season of noticing, discovering, listening, the poet Rumi wants to know

“How can you look so needy?
God is growing in fields you own.
He hangs from trees you pass every day.
He is disguised as that peach and pine cone.”

So what are we waiting for? Let’s move to a world opening up outside our windows. Let’s notice and give thanks for this season so revelatory of the Holy.

Featured Image:  Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash


Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
If you live in the Northern hemisphere and weather permits, choose a spot outside where you can gaze at the unfolding of creation.
If you’re a neighbor to the South, adapt this to your region’s experience.
Notice the sounds, scents, sights that call to you.
Breathe in deeply, and savor every revelation.
Bow and give thanks for the gifts of creation.

Happy Mother’s Day to all who birth new life and faithfully nurture it. Thank you for the giving over of your lives to greening our world with love and compassion.

A note for all of you who have been sending good thoughts and healing energy to the hydrangea that occupied my last blog post. It’s still on life support after enduring a brutal, unseasonal snow storm, but we’ve not given up on each other. And some related but unexpected news: I emailed White Flower Farm, where I had ordered the hydrangea, telling them what had happened and asking if they had any suggestions for care that might lead to resurrection. The next day I received an email response stating that they were sending me the exact same Color Fantasy hydrangea without charge! I’ve been a loyal customer of White Flower Farm for years, always impressed by the quality and care of the plants they offer, and now I’m overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness and generosity as well. Thank you, White Flower Farm!

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3 thoughts on “Seeing Up Close”

  1. I’ve been delighting in the morning birdsong, the eruption of tulips, the spring greening of bushes and the groundhog enjoying his morning breakfast on Marianhill’s back lawn. I observe him from my bedroom window!

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