To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.

Blake, "Auguries of Innocence"

Take a second look …

The yellow eyes of the Saw-whet Owl are so startling, their gaze so steady, that we tend to ignore everything else. It’s easy to miss the trace of blood just below the owl’s bill, a smear of something that changes the way we look at the bird, that deepens our understanding of it. What discoveries might we make if we took that second look more often, if we trained ourselves to see?

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Thin Places

The term “thin place” has become popular to refer to a location where two worlds, two planes of existence, seem to converge. Heaven and earth, time and eternity, the sacred and the profane—in a thin place you feel the barrier that separates these different worlds has worn away or thinned out. Suddenly, your awareness shifts, and you seem to stand on the threshold of something unspeakably strange: a world that is just like ours but completely different from it too. I say the term has become popular because more and more articles about thin places are appearing in newspapers and … Read more

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The Wonder of Owls

    I’ve been observing birds around Toronto for about fifteen years now (I started late), and over that time I’ve often had cause to wonder about owls. Mainly, I wonder what lies at the root of their effortless ability to fascinate me. I know of no other group of birds so capable of transfixing me, of rooting me to the spot as soon as I see one, of wiping every other thought from the surface of my mind while I stare in wonder at this particular pile of feathers. I’m not alone in my fascination with owls; they affect … Read more

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Reflections on the Dying Light

Thirteen years ago, the Canadian poet Don Coles published a remarkable essay with the title “Light Fantastic” in the Three for Thought series that used to run at the back of the Globe and Mail’s Books section. At the time, I was so impressed that I cut the essay out of the paper and filed it away. Since then, I’ve developed the habit of re-reading the piece every year at this time, after we abandon Daylight Savings Time and take the headlong plunge into winter’s cold and dark. For some reason, doing this seems to fortify and brace me for … Read more

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