Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Poetry of Saying Goodbye

Later this month, our church is saying goodbye to our very talented Minister of Spiritual Programs, Mary F. We're a funky church, a mix of Lutherans and Roman Catholics, and you can learn all about us here. Mary has been our Catholic minister for the past several years, organizing religious education and preaching at some services as well as doing a host of other things. She's moving on to join a program to become a hospital chaplain.

My wife is organizing a collection of poetry for Mary. Today, in the mail, a poem came from one of our older parishioners, Eileen, whose husband Leo died a couple of years ago. Atop the poem, someone has written "Dear Eileen--this poem speaks so of Leo's life. Such a beautiful man, such a life!"

It's a beautiful poem, profound in its dealing with loss and what one learns in this life. When I read something like this, I am humbled at the feat of great writing.

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfilment,
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what it's
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will never know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver
What are some of the poems that move you?

1 comment:

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