Clergy Clatter

“You have to get us back to where we were before the pandemic.”

As many of you know, I live on the edge of a salt marsh that is part of the Elizabeth River flood plain. It’s not the prettiest salt marsh in the world, but it’s special to me. If I stand on my back deck and look to the right, it can be really green and beautiful, with all sorts of wild life, and color, and activity. If I stand in the same spot and look to the left, I might see a black mud flat, depending on the tide, and a truck repair shop, and a concrete plant. And if I look dead ahead, I will see light rail and I-264.

My property line includes a significant portion of the salt marsh. The marsh grass that has invaded my yard, grows about ten feet tall. It dies back in the winter, and if the water in the marsh freezes, the weight of the ice pulls the winter grass down and flattens it out, sort of like a grass mat. Again, it’s not very pretty, but it’s the life cycle of a salt marsh. This year, the water did not freeze, so I have ten foot tall spears of dead grass everywhere I look. The marsh is not pretty in the winter.

But right at this time of year, the marsh comes alive. From within the brown mat of dead stalks, tiny green sprouts start to emerge. They do it quickly. And the Wisteria in the trees on the edge of the marsh erupts into bloom. It may be strangling its host tree, but it is beautiful. White and blue egrets start roosting up in the trees and flying around the marsh, looking for food, or perhaps a mate, The Yellow Crested Night Herons begin feasting on the Fiddler Crabs that are crawling out of the black mud, waving their one big claw, that I am told is supposed to attract a mate. Turtles start crawling along the slimy black mud working their way inland to do whatever it is that turtles do.

I’ve lived with my salt marsh for 46 years, and I’ve learned to appreciate its natural rhythm of death and decay, with birth and new life. I know the wild life and appreciate it. I know what is coming next, and look forward to it. I have to admit that I don’t look to the left very much, unless the tide is in. I tend to focus on the right.

I think life is kind of like that. We can focus on the unattractive and ugly, or we can look in another direction and see new life and beauty. They sort of go hand in hand. In my mind, this is like our Easter Season. There is pain and ugliness in the Easter story, but there is hope and beauty in it too. It depends on whether we look to the left or the right.

I wish you a Blessed Easter Season.


April 5, 2023


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A compilation of The Rev. Richard O. Bridgford’s most memorable articles from his nearly 25 years at Church of the Epiphany. Enjoy history, humor, nature, travel, and wacky experiences with Fr. Bridgford, his two-legged and four-legged friends! Recall:

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