I’ll be on vacation next week, beginning Monday, August 5th. In looking at the lectionary readings for the Sunday I’ll miss,August 11th, I noticed the listing in Hebrews of those Old Testament figures “who died in faith without having received the promises.” The writer calls them aliens and strangers on the earth. The translation in The Message says: “They accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home.”
Souls who never quite fit into the ways of the world are a gift to the rest of us. I would add to the list the poet Mary Oliver. It’s impossible (at least for me) to read her work and not feel a strange and deep affection for someone I’ve never met. I think I’ll spend some time with her next week. But this week is still young, and I’d like to share with you a Mary Oliver poem I read this morning:
How I Go to the Woods.
Ordinarily I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.