Monday, March 17, 2008

A Poem by Mary Oliver

... from her new collection, Red Bird.
It just seemed right for Holy Week. See if you agree.

Of The Empire

We will be known as a culture that feared death
and adored power, that tried to vanquish insecurity
for the few and cared little for the penury of the
many. We will be known as a culture that taught
and rewarded the amassing of things, that spoke
little if at all about the quality of life for
people (other people), for dogs, for rivers. All
the world, in our eyes, they will say, was a
commodity. And they will say that this structure
was held together politically, which it was, and
they will say also that our politics was no more
than an apparatus to accommodate the feelings of
the heart, and that the heart, in those days,
was small, and hard, and full of meanness.

Ride on, King Jesus, we say, and we pray. No one can hinder you. Ride on, and keep going, and don't stop here. Don't stop at my house, on my block, in my neighborhood. Leave well enough alone. Ride on, King Jesus.

(But he stops. He always stops, bends over, stoops down, stumbles, dies. He stops to walk with us, to soften hard hearts that will not walk with him on his way to the cross.)

O stop today King Jesus. Even when we turn our backs, even when we do not want you, come and stoop to us, and soften our hearts, that we might care what happens to the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, the rivers, the hungry children with their open hands. Stop for us, and teach us to stop for one another. AMEN

P.S. the part in italics is by me.

21 comments:

St Edwards Blog said...

Oh I love that poem - and I also love what you say.

Ride on King Jesus... wow.

This is great.

St Edwards Blog said...

Ooops - I guess I am here as my other me!

P.S. an after-thought said...

This fits so well with our Lenten theme and about some of the things I think about our society. My husband thinks our country/society has gone over the tipping point, ie it will now be on the downward slide.

The poem could be someone 100 years from now speaking about us.

Kievas said...

Amen!

Presbyterian Gal said...

Why, yes! I do agree.

davenu said...

Very appropriate, and I love what you wrote.

RevDrKate said...

And I would say WOW back at you!

FranIAm said...

I had to come back and read both Mary Oliver's words and your own.

What a balm to my heart today.

Thank you.

(me appearing as original me today!)

Mary Ellen said...

Beautiful. Thank you.

Paul said...

I love both Oliver's poem and your addendum. Thanks, Diane.

Now, my avuncular (transgendered Jewish mother?) self kicks in: Are you taking it easy? Getting healthy again?

Diane said...

Paul: thank you for your concern. I do feel better. I'm trying to take it easy. But, as you know, that's kind of a challenge.

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

hmmm excellent reflection that ties into the poem... i'd say use this for holy week diane - for the sat. vigil meditation. doesn't need to be super long if it's so powerful...

Gannet Girl said...

I am quite fond of both parts.

mompriest said...

I love Mary Oliver...sigh...

and your words are wonderful too!

FranIAm said...

Diane- I would like permission to use your words on my parish blog. I understand if you say no- but I hope that you will say yes.

St Edwards Blog said...

Thank you for this Diane. I hope it is to your liking. If not - let me know!

The Swandive said...

This is beautiful - both voices. Will you be at the show at the State Theater on the 30th?

Diane said...

yes, I will. will you, swandive?

The Swandive said...

I will indeed! I was so thrilled to hear about it, missing her last time she was in town. Swap stories afterwards? (and thanks for stopping over) Blessings.

zorra said...

Thank you, Diane.

Diane said...

I know that no one is stopping by here: but just noticed: I believe that this poem is a kind of free-form sonnet (it is unrhymed, but it's 14 lines, and takes the Shakespearean form as it has a turn in the last two lines.)