I wish I read more poetry. Sometimes it seems like it takes too much concentration. But even as a novice poetry reader, I followed the work of Mary Oliver. She had an uncanny ability to paint a picture and awaken the soul with just a few words. After she died last week, I listened to an interview she gave with Krista Tippet (On Being, January 17, 2019). My favorite story was that on the day she won the Pulitzer prize, she went to the town dump to gather discarded shingles. She was in the process of roofing her home and was looking for supplies that would help reduce her costs. Many townsfolk did the same. And a woman at the dump ask her “Are you here looking for your discarded manuscripts?” She wasn’t. She too had heard the news that she won the Pulitzer Prize, but she still needed some shingles.
The story caused me to turn back to her poetry. And I discovered this one entitled:
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Prayer, like poetry, sometimes feels like a useless jumble of words. But it can also be a doorway. A doorway into thanks, as the poet says. And an experience through which the holy one may reach us.
With grace and peace,