Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Return – A Process of Initiation in Nine Parts

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

 ~T.S. Eliot from Part IV of the poem Little Gidding


Winter passes slowly.
The frozen ground protects the seed.
In darkness it sleeps waiting
for the return of the light.


A glimmer of what is to come.
Will the groundhog see its shadow,
run and hide in the dark belly of earth
afraid of what it casts upon the ground?
Or will it see only gray and stay out,
little by little see what the growing light


Sunlight melts away ice.
All becomes aware.
Greening begins in the warmth of sun
and moisture of melted earth.
Clouds cast shadows
rains loosen soil so the seedling
can find its way to the light.


Full bloom flowering.
Things grow into color.
Sunlight reveals what was always there
in the dark slumber of winter.
The bristly bush realizes
it harbors the rose.


Sunlight burns.
Its rays sometimes too much
for green things. The flower wilts.
It knows more than it can handle
but its seed finds its way
onto the earth
and waits.


Calm settles over the land.
Something begins to shift as
first harvest begins.
All that was hidden behind flower
manifests, is ready for release,
eager to be transformed through
consummation of its ripe flesh.


Soon all falls as sunlight wanes.
For a moment we glimpse brilliance
burning in red and gold,
the promise of return.
No time for wistful reverie.
The harvest bears what is full
and ripe with flavor.
Taste it now!


Darker and darker still,
one last harvest before going within.
Once culled of her bounty, the earth rests.
The final seed scattered waits
for the blanket of snow.


Snow sparkles like crystal in moonlight.
Millions of flakes scattered over seed
mirror the stars strewn across the heavens.
The seed sinks deep
in the cold dark earth
begins to know again.

© 2009 Joanne Elliott

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

~T.S. Eliot from Part IV of the poem Little Gidding

**Written for a Science of Mind course at the time my husband was going through his stem cell transplant to bring his cancer into remission. Many levels of initiation going on.


  1. really nicely penned progression through the year in life...and the new life and then giving forward to the next life...i like...

  2. The circle and cycle of life, planted, growing, dying, seeded again, endless.
    A lovely nature-at-her-best write from you.

  3. first really thought it's nature you're writing about...and you did..but after reading your footnote...the meaning stretched miles and miles..so good when there is new life after the sun burnt so hard

  4. And round and round we go, wish winter and it's stupid snow would never show..haha. Great verse, really delved into the life of a year.

  5. nice little journey you've taken us on... a reminder some suffer while others rejoice... season for all things

  6. I get a lot more out of T.S. Eliot now that I'm older and have lived a life. In school he just never stuck in my mind. And your poem has that same cadence, of measured reflection and unexpected connection, coming full circle in tying death and life together, making the rose and the fire one. (Thanks for your note,also--best wishes for you and your husband.)

  7. The wonder of the seasons... you did Eliot justice.

  8. Wonderful progression. Such a pleasure to read this...

    a song, this is?

  9. Powerful imagery and a brilliant economy of language.
    Loved it.

  10. Yes the echoes of Eliot, your own progression through a year when one is forced to reach out to nature as one becomes a caretaker and it seems that all is dwindling and loss. Prayers for you, my dear. Beautiful work here.

  11. A beautiful poem with great imagery ....thank you for sharing the footnote.

  12. wow amazing the cycles of life giving away to a new life and yet looking on to yet another so well done

  13. When the last of earth left to discover
    Is that which was the beginning;

    True, the nature of life's circle, something so beautiful as a rose can grow from the depths of soil, which is really life's wasted decay..... Very thoughtful....

  14. It is the joy and relief to share with someone dear to you that matters. It is therapeutic and helps tremendously.


  15. Joanne! The read was stunning, but your note at the end was what brought goosebumps to my arms. A heavy weighted piece when I think back to what some of my own loved ones have ventured through, but with a true and new found appreciation for life, they have returned to the cycle. Blessings for both you and Charles, and kudos on a stunning write.

  16. All manner of thing shall be well
    When the tongues of flame are in-folded
    Into the crowned knot of fire
    And the fire and the rose are one.

    so true, written from your own experience, which makes it more meaningful.

  17. Thank you all! I will be working my way through as much of the list as I can soon.