Wild Geese --Mary Oliver ― New and Selected Poems, 1992
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
call to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
--and as we went to Pierre yesterday, I pointed out to Joel the cemetery where we buried the young man this last week. He had never really noticed it --fence posts worn and protecting the roots of some kind of prairie grass, while the fence itself lay on the ground, the barbed wire poking from the dirt like some kind of invasive root stock. And the grave markers lay tumbled about or bent by the wind. Rocks outline the mounded graves. The undercurrent of voices, of those that rest there, runs deep, but not silent....
Visiting the Graveyard --Mary Oliver from her collection entitled, “Red Bird”
When I think of death
it is a bright enough city,
and every year more faces there
but not a single one
though I long for it,
and when they talk together,
which they do
it’s in an unknowable language–
I can catch the tone
but understand not a single word–
and when I open my eyes
there’s the mysterious field, the beautiful trees.
There are the stones.
--and I think of the little faces I marked with ashes, and said they were star dust, and they nodded their affirmation, all solemn but willing....
Blessing the Dust --Jan Richardson (Source: Painted Prayer Book from Blessing the Dust)
… So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
and the stars that blaze
in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
--and I think how often I struggle to hear the words of my own heart, how I cobble together a string of verbs and nouns, seeking to weave a whole cloth that most often leaves me stripped naked...
--through some great folly I open my mouth and the words tumble out and a great many hands back and back like some virtuoso string theory enthrall my head with their weight and proclaim holy those who seek the holy because they are already holy.
We live in the time when the veil in the temple has been torn, the whole cloth savaged, the holy spilled out. I lay my hands on the crowns and furrows, that through no work of my own are already bread for the world
Praying --Mary Oliver
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Oh. Yes. Thank you.
At prayer this morning (beginning at about John 1:37)
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”Come and see. Look for the doorway into thanks, and the silence in which another voice may speak.
The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.”