One of the things I resolved when I came to seminary was that I would keep up with my reading of non-required material. I knew that that would be a difficult goal to achieve, so I aimed for poetry as my daily sustenance -- short, contained, manageable.
Even that minimalistic objective proved impossible to meet as I sank into the mire of Greek. But here I am, it's the first day of a new quarter, and I am optimistic again.
I've been reading Mary Oliver for a long time. It helped that several years ago both my daugher's English teacher and the professor who was to become my spiritual director were enamoured of her work; she kept popping up, all over my life.
I don't know of anyone who better captures the sights and thoughts that accompany me on my late autumn walks around the Little Lakes, where I spent a considerable amount of time over the past vacation week. Add to them Lake Chautauqua, along which I also walked at both midnight and early in the morning, and the resevoir that is my usual destination here, and you get a very Mary Oliver time of year.
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,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Redheads Lifting in Fog