I have been at my desk all morning getting ready to speak at Denver Seminary's Spiritual Life Conference which is two weeks away. I'm jazzed about weaving poetry and literary narrative into my two lectures on the contemplative life. This is the first time I will be using material I have been learning in my doctoral program at Fordham University (The Jesuit University of New York) and at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. One of the poems I am using is by Pulitzer Prize Winner Mary Oliver.
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
Amazing! I think Oliver describes one dimension of the contemplative's vocation. The contemplative “…wants to stand still and be astonished.”
The farther I go on the journey the more I believe that this is what its all about.