Saturday, December 3, 2016


Rain falls here in New Iberia early this morning, and I am thankful for the patter of it on the roof. I check the weather forecasts for Sewanee and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the former where I live part of the year, and the latter having been damaged by forest fires in the Great Smokies. I’m relieved to see reports of rain in Gatlinburg where so many acres of the town and forests have been destroyed.

For four weeks now, I’ve been plagued by bronchitis from the ash in the air because of burning in the sugar cane fields, many times thinking we should travel to our second home at Sewanee where the air would be less polluted. However, a friend who has just returned from Sewanee says that the air there is also polluted with smoke drifting over from the fires in the Smokies. 

Rain is a blessing right now in many parts of the country and I turn to a book of blessings To Bless the Space Between Us, by John O’Donohue for his thoughts about living in a world infused with blessings of both home and landscape. About clean air, he writes: 

Let us bless the invigoration
Of clean, fresh air.
The gentleness of air
That holds and slows the rain,
Lets it fall down…In the name of the air,
The breeze,
And the wind,
May our souls
Stay in rhythm
With eternal

I was fascinated about a story O’Donohue told regarding the power of intention and of blessing people, habitats, happenings… An ongoing experiment took place in an American university in which there is a sealed-off room containing a coin-flipping machine. Day and night the machine flips coins. The results usually show fifty percent heads and fifty percent tails. Near this room there is another one that invites people in. Each person is requested to make an intention — heads or tails? After they make their choice, they are asked to write it down on a page that is placed in a sealed envelope and addressed to the research team. The results showed that if a person wished for heads, the machine ended up flipping up to 75 percent majority of heads and vice versa. The team found that the distance that the power of the intention to influence the outcome held for up to a hundred and fifty mile radius surrounding the room in which the experiment took place. O’Donohue poses the question that if human intention can substantially influence the outcome of a cold, neutral coin-flipping machine, how much more can our human intentions achieve as we relate to one another? He writes: "Goethe says that once the commitment is made, destiny conspires with us to support and realize it."

And as the rain falls, I read the succinct lines of the poet who created this book of gracious invocations: 

Let us bless the humility of water,
always willing to take the shape
Of whatever otherness holds it…Blessed be water,
Our first mother. 

And I add: Blessed be the flow of renewal in the rain and air as they become transformative agents in our anxious world.

Painting by my deceased brother Paul who loved the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the fresh air of northern California.

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