Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Yesterday I found myself in an unknown bookshop (alright, actually three different bookshops) leafing through this new volume of poems by Mary Oliver: Evidence. It is a sweet collection of reflections on the mystery of discovering blessings amidst ordinary existence. One poem, "Hallelujah," compelled me to purchase the whole book.

Everyone should be born into this world happy
and loving everything.
But in truth it rarely works that way.
For myself, I have spent my life clamoring toward it.
Hallelujah, anyway I'm not where I started!

And have you been trudging like that, sometimes
almost forgetting how wondrous the world is
and how miraculously kind some people can be?
And have you too decided that probably nothing important
is ever easy?
Not, say, for the first sixty years?

Hallelujah, I'm sixty now, and even a little more,
and some days I feel I have wings.
(Mary Oliver, "Hallelujah," Evidence, Beacon Press: Boston, 2009, p. 19)

This morning, when I opened my email, a man who has been my friend for the longest time - 43 years - forwarded me this music video clip that essentially exclaims the same awe as Mary Oliver. It comes from the "Playing for Change: Songs Around the World" collection.

This is the blessing of my morning prayer: being connected with people I love, searching for a sign of blessing amidst the wounds and being open to God's surprise in the most unlikely places. Lord, make me an instrument of your peace...


don-E Merson said...

Dude, I don't think I could loved that video any more. Looking at all the different cultures pleaing for the common sense notion "We don't need no trouble" is just so beautiful. All of these different cultures have this history that doesn't help them learn how not to relive this divisive history, as Santana claims, but it is the history that creates this division. There is no reason for Arabs and Jews to hate other than a lesson of history, they have much in common as do we all. I think Joyce got it right "History is a nightmare that I wish to awake (not sure if that is an exact quote but I'll put quotes just in case)." Song like that is just the dream to exchange for the nightmare that is history. All the people, all the beautiful places, God has blessed the world with such wonderous things and all we have to do is get along to enjoy them. Thanks for the post, the poem and the song are a great morning delight.

RJ said...

You and I connect on sooo many levels, dear man. I am so glad to know that this is yet another one.

Cynthia Winton-Henry said...

Hi. I went looking for mary olivers poem and your blog came up. We don't know each other but I have also taken the path of art and ordination. with phil porter I created a practice called InterPlay. Phil is a UCC arts minister in Berkeley. i am always thrilled whenever I see a fellow traveler out and about! Thanks for all you do. There's some wonderful InterPlay leaders in MA.

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