I Have Deep Faith in This

The poppies send up their / orange flares; swaying / in the wind, their congregations
are a levitation / of bright dust, of thin / and lacy leaves. / There isn’t a place
in this world that doesn’t / sooner or later drown / in the indigos of darkness,
but now, for a while, / the roughage / shines like a miracle
as it floats above everything / with its yellow hair. / Of course nothing stops the cold,
black, curved blade / from hooking forward— / of course / loss is the great lesson.
But I also say this: that light / is an invitation / to happiness, / and that happiness,
when it’s done right, / is a kind of holiness, / palpable and redemptive.
Inside the bright fields, / touched by their rough and spongy gold,
I am washed and washed / in the river / of earthly delight—
and what are you going to do— / what can you do / about it— / deep, blue night?
     —“Poppies” by Mary Oliver

At times over the past 2 or 3 weeks, I have felt almost overwhelmed by grief. It is a grief of having to behave in ways that feel contradictory to my beliefs: that the world is not a safe place, that we must stay away from other people, that anything we touch can make us sick, that necessities are scarce. And yet, we know that sheltering-in-place is saving lives; it is an act of love and service. We are truly doing the right thing by cancelling in-person worship and meetings for the short term. Sometimes, however, my heart and mind struggle to reconcile with this reality. Yet, I walk outside, and I am amazed by the sunshine, the bird song, the bright flowers. And I realize, again, that the world is still a beautiful, hospitable, and gracious place. Our separation is temporary. We will find our way out of this deep, blue night—and emerge into a golden new reality that will make our togetherness even more meaningful. I have deep faith in this.

See you in (zoom) church,


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