Poetry + Liturgy

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Church kicked off with a Mary Oliver poem last week.

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

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It is nice to be a part of a congregation that is unafraid of engaging, or (gasp!) contributing to culture.  Too often churches are ,if not openly confrontational, willfully ignorant of works not created 100% by churchies for churchies, which I find shortsighted and scary. As a result, folk heroes are made of TV people that have a lot of kids and teach them to be weird, while turning our noses up at the wrong-writing labors of Dorothy Day or Cornell West, or as known by most American Christians, “who?”

I like to settle in the spaces between the scripted liturgy and breathe God. I enjoy celebrating with songs and rhythms of Africa without cultural appropriation. I enjoy watching toddlers run to the pulpit, to be scooped up by the pastrix, who continues the service while cuddling the baby.

There are many issues regarding social justice (and in some cases, actual justice) in America at the moment. McKinley. #AskRachel. Kalief Browder. Domestic violence. Rape culture. Violent attacks against homosexuals.

In my little church, carved out of the side of a beautiful mountain, I find refuge. I am safe. I am a world away from dogs getting their mouth taped shut, or mothers getting stabbed by their sons. For a few moments I can hear God’s word and drink coffee with His imperfect people. I can have a small portion of peace, and though I am exhausted, I am determined to get back up and keep fighting.

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