Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

1.     Something came up / out of the dark. / It wasn’t anything I had ever seen before.
It wasn’t an animal / or a flower, / unless it was both.
Something came up out of the water, / a head the size of a cat / but muddy and without ears.
I don’t know what God is. / I don’t know what death is.
            But I believe they have between them / some fervent and necessary arrangement.
      2.   Sometimes / melancholy leaves me breathless…
      3.   Water from the heavens! Electricity from the source! / Both of them mad to create something!
            The lighting brighter than any flower. / The thunder without a drowsy bone in its body.
      4.   Instructions for living a life: / Pay attention. / Be astonished. / Tell about it.
      5.   Two or three times in my life I discovered love. / Each time it seemed to solve everything.
Each time it solved a great many things / but not everything.
Yet left me as grateful as if it had indeed, and / thoroughly, solved everything.
      6.   God, rest in my heart / and fortify me,
            take away my hunger for answers, / let the hours play upon my body
            like the hands of my beloved.
Let the cathead appear again— / the smallest of your mysteries,
            some wild cousin of my own blood probably—
            some cousin of my own wild blood probably, / in the black dinner-bowl of the pond.
      7.   Death waits for me, I know it, around / one corner or another.
This doesn’t amuse me. / Neither does it frighten me.
After the rain, I went back into the field of sunflowers.
It was cool, and I was anything but drowsy. / I walked slowly, and listened
            to the crazy roots, in the drenched earth, laughing and growing.
                         —“Sometimes” by Mary Oliver

The Christian season of Lent begins this month on February 14, and will continue until Easter Sunday, on April 1.  This year, with so much going on in our world to distract, disorient, and scatter us, I invite us to heed Mary Oliver’s “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”  These instructions are quite similar to the words of Christian prophets through the ages: “Stay woke! Expect the miraculous. Speak your truth.”
Throughout this new year—and throughout this Lenten season—we will continue to walk in the ways of Jesus.  We will contribute our time and talents to building a compassionate and strong congregation capable of repairing the breach of care and grace and hope in our communities.  And by sharing our gifts with those around us, we will build bridges, empower those in need of support, and expand the possibilities of love.  Astonishing things are happening all around us.  Walls are coming down.  Blinders are lifted.  Hesitant voices are speaking.  Doors are opening. Hearts are welcoming.  Diversity is cherished.  Let’s be part of these miracles.  And let’s be sure we tell about it!

See you in church,