Meditations

Such a Singing in the Wild Branches: A Spring Poem by Mary Oliver

 

It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
stopped
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky–––all of them

were singing.
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: For you, is it spring? Is it morning? Are there trees near you? If yes, try a morning walk, listening for the birds, or if that is not possible simply open a window and let the birdsong in. Is it only birds that you are hearing, or is Someone else singing to you as well?

Let Your God Love You: A Poem for Lent by Edwina Gately

Let Your God Love You: A Poem for Lent by Edwina Gately

Be silent.
Be still.
Alone.
Empty
Before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Quiet.
Still.
Be.

Let your God—
Love you.

For reflecting in solitude or in the company of others: Do you find it easier to give love or to receive it? What does your response suggest to you about your relationship with God this season?

Blessing in the Round

Blessing in the Round

This blessing cannot help it;

It’s the way it was designed.

Lay it down and it rises again.

Release it and it returns.

Give it away and it makes its way back to you.

There is no explaining how it delights in reappearing

when you have ceased to hold it,

no hiding the sly smile it wears when it shows up at your door,

no mistaking the wonder when it circles back around

just at the moment you thought you had spent it vout completely,

had poured it out with abandon

when you saw the deepest thirst for it,

put it entirely in the hands

of those desperate in their hunger.

But here it is.

The perfect circle of it pressing into your hand

that curls around it and then lets go,

receiving and releasing and receiving again

like the breath

that does not belong to us

but sets us in motion.

This Lenten blessing written by Jan Richardson is a reflection on words from the Gospel According to Mark: “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and the sake of the gospel, will save it.” How do her words and the words from scripture inform and enrich each other? Have there been times when you have experienced the return of a blessing in this way? If a particular line or image is especially meaningful for you, try responding to it with art or written words of your own, as you are led.

Cactus League Spirituality?

Cactus League Spirituality?

 

Loyal Orioles fans, spring training has started. From her novel “The Cactus League”, this reflection by Emily Nemens:

Ask any fan, and she’ll tell you there’s something satisfyingly linear about baseball. Three strikes, three outs. Four bases, nine innings. A lineup — you don’t have to be an entymologist to see the meaning in that. But at the same time as that steady progression of three up, three down, then the next, then the next, it’s going around and around, cycling through the order, runnning the bases. Things get parabolic. There’s the arc of up and down drawn through the organization…the tight arc of an infield fly out and the majestic one of a game-winning homer. Charting the line gets mighty complicated…[the line become] more like a dance chart than any kind of arrow.”

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: Which of these patterns — a steady line, an expanding cycle, or a sudden, explosive arc — describes your relationship with God?

 

Ash Wednesday: A Poem by T. S. Eliot

Ash Wednesday: A Poem by T. S. Eliot

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: In this poem Eliot suggest that there are many things he cannot do — thinking, turning, knowing, hoping, turning and striving among them. And yet he foresees renouncing, constructing, and eventually rejoicing. What, if anything, are you expecting to set aside during the 40 days of Lent? What new options do you imagine will open for you, or to you?