This week and more has been filled with poetry and verse to point to the Incarnation wonder. Wordsmith witnesses who wander their own ways upon the earth record what they see — and we are grateful. They walk with open eyes and listen, pray and chronicle – and we are blessed. Today’s good verses come to us from contemporary American poet, Mary Oliver. There are three.
The first follows a legend and takes us to a stable. At its end we are left perhaps in the safest place to be — you’ll see. Spend some time there.
Says a country legend told every year:
Go to the barn on Christmas Eve and see
what the creatures do as that long night tips over.
Down on their knees they will go, the fire
of an old memory whistling through their minds!
[So] I went. Wrapped to my eyes against the cold
I creaked back the barn door and peered in.
From town the church bells spilled their midnight music,
and the beasts listened –
yet they lay in their stalls like stone.
Oh the heretics!
Not to remember Bethlehem,
or the star as bright as a sun,
or the child born on a bed of straw!
To know only of the dissolving Now!
Brothers! I whispered. It is Christmas!
And you are no heretics, but a miracle,
immaculate still as when you thundered forth
on the morning of creation!
As for Bethlehem, that blazing star
still sailed the dark, but only looked for me.
Caught in its light, listening again to its story,
I curled against some sleepy beast, who nuzzled
my hair as though I were a child, and warmed me
the best it could all night.
The second wakes us just to see again what’s at our feet. It bids us know that prayer is simple too, atTENDing only. As 2014 begins, let’s make a practice of it in our moments. Let’s not make of prayer a strategy, an achievement, a technique — but just the simplest doorway to a place, a Presence who opens us.
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.
From: Thirst: Poems
And a third remarks on snowy days and nights, a gift to those embraced by white these January days. Enjoy the beauty, the wallking, the red hat, and shut the door. What gates do you look to, hoping openings?
of flakes, then clouds of flakes
in the baskets of the wind
and the branches
of the trees –
oh, so pretty.
through the growing stillness,
as the flakes
prickled the path,
then covered it,
as in curds and drifts,
as the wind grew stronger,
shaping its work
taking greater steps
and far from home.
and followed our long shadows back
to the house,
stamped our feet,
went inside, and shut the door.
Through the window
we could see
how far away it was to the gates of April.
Let the fire now
put on its red hat
and sing to us.
From: Why I Wake Early
What do these verses wake in you?
What is their invitation to your heart and life?
Be present, then, to this your moment. And see. And see.