Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mary Oliver, Anne Lamott & Evensong

Last week after three years of working at Grace Cathedral for the first time with much anxiety I officiated at Evensong. Those men and boys are very intimidating. Having grown up in a household that didn't sing much and a church that didn't chant ever - I don't think I was so horrible. I should have practiced more, I hope I'll get other opportunities because with Matt's help I actually began to see the joy in doing it.

For the said prayers at Evensong a book literally fell off my office shelf an hour or so before the service. I flipped through "Thirst" a book of poems by Mary Oliver and the two below felt just right for the week before Thanksgiving, and the approaching season of Advent. Here they are, feel free to "read, mark, and inwardly digest them." Anne Lamott tonight in her reading at a Welcome event I attended called Mary Oliver divine, I agree with her.

Making the House Ready for the Lord

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but
Still nothing is as shining as it should be
for you.  Under the sink, for example, is an

uproar of mice—it is the season of their
many children.  What shall I do?  And under the eaves

and through the walls the squirrels
have gnawed their ragged entrances—but it is the season

when they need shelter, so what shall I do?  And
the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard

while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow;
what shall I do?  Beautiful is the new snow falling

in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly
up the path, to the door.  And still I believe you will

come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox
the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know

that really I am speaking to you whenever I say,
as I do all morning and afternoon:  Come in, Come in.


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.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

waiting pains

Transitions are painful, complicated and confusing. These words of Kahil Gibran the famous poet and artist came to my mind as I considered some of the current struggles going on in the church and other institutions dealing with change. The last part about the value of stability is so helpful to me when so much lacks clarity, and seems up in the air.

Once as a teenager when arguing with my mother I remember picking up "The Prophet" and reading these words to her triumphantly. Now 30 years old I have greater appreciation for their painfulness as well as their blessing.  I don't know where you are (whoever you are reading this) but while there is much to be grateful for (it is one of my frequent Facebook status updates after all) I'm also feeling a lot of stress, pain and impatience while waiting for the "new" to emerge.

On Children by Kahlil Gibran  

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.   You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.   You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.