A few years ago, a former supervisor of mine posted a Mary Oliver passage on his blog, the one that you’ll read below. He had left his pastoral call to move in another direction – one that many might say is remarkably different from the other. But one that probably allows him to be himself fully and unapologetically.
Soaking up the beauty of the world and expressing the wonder of it is not always easy when there are ‘responsibilities’ to attend to, people to please, bad moods in which to wallow, and problems to solve that distract us from noticing what is good. What if our focus was on the beauty? It’s still there in the midst of suffering, heartache or annoyance. So many times suffering has a louder voice than anything else. What helps me deal with the loneliness, the heartache and the potential for pain within my human life is the knowing that beauty, while many times more soft spoken, underlays whatever else seems to be raging above.
Beauty, like human suffering, is a constant. We just have to notice it and let it in – even in the midst of that suffering. Maybe that’s what really matters. Maybe it would make a difference.
When loneliness comes stalking, go onto the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice
something you have never noticed before,
like the tambourine sound of the snow-cricket
whose pale green body is no longer than your thumb.
Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,
shaking the water-sparks from its wings.
Let grief be your sister, she will whether or no.
Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also,
like the diligent leaves.
A lifetime isn’t long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life.
Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.
In the glare of your mind, be modest.
And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling.
Live with the beetle and the wind.
excerpted from “flare”
Perhaps when we let the beauty of the world choose our paths, we can live fully into the exuberance that wants to speak through us. Then we can scatter our flowers over the graves, and walk away.