A New Beginning
Well, its 2017, and time to write a blog. Not about anything super important, if that’s what you are looking for, even though there is a lot of stuff going on in the world, that in part amazes me and in part horrifies me!
No, I want to start 2017 slowly and with thought and intention. 2016 was a year of loss, and I want 2017 to be one of gain. Unfortunately, it has started early with the loss of my Uncle and the beautiful son of some dear friends, but let’s be hopeful that saying goodbye will not be the catch cry of this year.
Instead I want it to be the year of the heart, the year of listening, sensing, embracing all that life is, an incredible mystery that we are born into and that we leave ever so soon. I want it to be a year of exploration, of who I am and maybe who you are, and maybe even more importantly who God is. Not that believing in God is a prerequisite for the journey.
With this in mind I have invited some friends along, writers and poets, philosophers and theologians, all who can talk about what it is to be human and what it means to believe in something more, something intangible but seemingly oh so real. How that can affect our lives and the lives of those around us.
My aim during 2017 is to read a book a fortnight, and to bring it to you as a window that can open our eyes and our minds and often our hearts to something new, and grander than we may have thought.
The books will be an eclectic bunch, novels, nonfiction, philosophy and theological books, and maybe even books on poetry and prose, or a children’s book. It will be a journey we will travel together, accompanied by some of my favourite people.
So lets get started!
My first post will be some poems not a book, by the most wonderful Mary Oliver. She more than any other poet captures the connection between ourselves and nature, between ourselves and mystery, and somehow intertwines them in a way that is so true to our experiences. Here is one of my favourite poems.
The Summer Day (from “New and Selected Poems”)
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life!”
I think that is a beautiful line!
Mary Oliver has released numerous books full of poems and stories, I only have a few, but I could present so many here that you would probably scream. Indulge me as I share a few more of the ones that really speak to me.
Wild Geese (from “Dream Work”)
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.
Song of the Builders (from Why I Wake Early)
On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God –
a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside
this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope
it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.
I have read this one often. It tells me we all have a role to play in this life, a role to create and affirm and uplift and love. Even if half the time we don’t get it right.
And finally, an extract from a poem I used in my very first blog, just to show I am consistent.
Sometimes (from the “Red Bird” collection)
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
Okay that’s enough. See you in two weeks.
Peace and love to you all