Showing posts from July, 2019

Starting and ending this way

Mary Oliver wrote, in her poem, "Mindful":

Every day,
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leave me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It is what I was born for -
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself over and over

in joy,
and acclamation,
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?
Like the Psalmists of old, some of us cultivate a life of praise.  We notice, and we say it outloud.
In our Summer of Psalms series, our text today is another of our Psalms of orientation – those prayers that start us out on the foundation of God’s goodness and reliability, and point us, like Mary Oliver does, to the world’s beauty. These Psalms r…

A life well-lived

On the 4th of July, for over 30 years, NPR broadcasts a reading of the Declaration of Independence.  Arguably the most famous line in the document is the first line of the preamble: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  
America is unabashed about the pursuit of happiness.  It’s written right into the foundation of things, and we have not held back from that pursuit.  It’s a high value in our culture.  Ask a parent what they want for their kids and most will say we only want our kids to be happy – only, like that’s a basic prerequisite and everything else is harder, or bonus. 
  It hasn’t always been this way – for most of human history, happiness wasn’t something people went after – it would never occur to them that happiness was something you could pursue. You just lived your life, and if happiness…