by Mary Oliver
Another morning and I wake with thirst
for the goodness I do not have. I walk
out to the pond and all the way God has
given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord,
I was never a quick scholar but sulked
and hunched over my books past the hour
and the bell; grant me, in your mercy,
a little more time. Love for the earth
and love for you are having such a long
conversation in my heart. Who knows what
will finally happen or where I will be sent,
yet already I have given a great many things
away, expecting to be told to pack nothing,
except the prayers which, with this thirst,
I am slowly learning.
In college, I studied theology. For hours at a time (When I wasn't scanning the aisles, that is, for a glimpse of my now husband, Troy), I scoured commentaries and researched various doctrines to prepare for exams and write papers. And though I am certainly not saying this is true universally, all that head knowledge did little to inspire awe in my soul for Christ. I can see how, spiritually speaking, the foolish things of this world could indeed shame the wise, if being "wise" in that context means dissecting and neatly summarizing one's faith in the Resurrection or if one's motivation for analyzing excessively the teachings of the Church stems from anything at all besides love.
Our conversion to Orthodoxy required the letting go of my long-held presumptions and the acknowledgment that the Mystery of Christ is too astonishing, fearful, wonderful, mind-blowing to box in or contain. I discovered then that my new lack of dependence on succinct answers and explanations coupled with my submissive response to Christ's mercy in the form of communal prayer, fasting, alms-giving and my participation in the sacraments, worked together to transform my belief in God, eternity, the Kingdom of Heaven, the whole deal, from steady to ever increasingly wonder-filled.
I really like the line: Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart. It sounds to me like a perfectly beautiful and eloquent description of someone praying without ceasing. I also like how Ms. Oliver alludes in this poem to the process, the long journey, that is salvation. She is packing light and pacing herself. She is slowly learning.
This morning I will focus my efforts on heading straight away to the Source of Living Water (I have a tendency to first try drinking from a lot of empty streams before remembering from whence comes true peace) when I get thirsty, which is often. I also plan on heading HERE throughout the day to find more thought-provoking poetry.
Blessings to you all!