Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Meditations and Sacrament

Although we bounce rather promiscuously between three churches - two Episcopal, one Catholic - probably our favorite is the Sunday evening Service of Meditations and Sacrament at the Church of the Ascension. The first of this past Sunday's three meditations, generally related to the uncertainty of the disciples at Jesus' upcoming Ascension, was by Mary Oliver.

What is there beyond knowing that keeps
calling to me?

I can’t turn in any direction
but it’s there. I don’t mean

the leaves’ grip and shine or even the thrush’s
silk song, but the far-off

fires, for example,
of the stars, heaven’s slowly turning

theater of light, or the wind
playful with its breath;

or time that’s always rushing forward,
or standing still

in the same—what shall I say—

What I know
I could put into a pack

as if it were bread and cheese, and carry it
on one shoulder,

important and honorable, but so small!
While everything else continues, unexplained

and unexplainable. How wonderful it is
to follow a thought quietly

to its logical end.
I have done this a few times.

But mostly I just stand in the dark field,
in the middle of the world, breathing

in and out. Life so far doesn’t have any other name
but breath and light, wind and rain.

If there’s a temple, I haven’t found it yet.
I simply go on drifting, in the heaven of the grass and the weeds.

This Service is interfaith in spirit, ecumenical. I don't know of Mary Oliver identifies in terms of any particular religion, or none. Most recently I saw her words featured in the masthead of the Religious Naturalist Association (along with Einstein and Kazantzakis). It hardly matters. It's bread and cheese for our journey.

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