Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.”  (Mary Oliver)

I write these words during the final weekend of October.  The weather has been unseasonably warm, but what has caught my attention the most, has been the beautiful colors that have once again appeared all around us.  I’ve been moved by the banquet of colors  due to the changing leaves.  The different yellows – some bright, others more muted, and at times, a wonderful lime-like combination of yellow and green – the gold-colored leaves, the many different shades of orange, the brilliant reds, the browns, rusts, and greens all create an extraordinary display.  I’ve also appreciated the light once again, especially in the ways it can shine upon and highlight these colors in startling ways.  People travel for miles, even taking bus trips to this part of the country, to  take in this gift.  The display doesn’t last long, just a few short weeks.  Like many good gifts we have been given, it is with us for a time, meant to be noticed and appreciated when with us.  The trees and bushes are offering us a deep blessing , one of the gifts of this special time of year.  Gratitude fills me when I notice the good gifts of God’s creation.  It lifts my spirit and touches my soul.  Often, I’ve been stopped in my tracks, and can’t find the appropriate words to describe what I’m experiencing.  I value these moments, appreciate, and celebrate them.  I want to tell others about them too, but sometimes it’s hard to find the right words.

Seeing all these wonderful colors once again reminded me of a poem, one that I recently read by Mary Oliver.  Mary Oliver was born and raised in Ohio, but she has a very wonderful connection to Cape Cod.  For years she lived in Provincetown, enjoying the town itself, Blackwater Pond, and the Province Lands.  She published her first book of poetry in 1963 at the age of twenty-eight.  Her fourth book “American Primitive” won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984.  Over the course of her long career, she received numerous awards.  She died in 2019.  Oliver has a wonderful way of writing about nature.  She turned to nature for inspiration and her poetry describes the sense of wonder it instilled in her.  Her poetry speaks to the spiritual aspect of creation.

 We had friends over the other night, and as a gift they gave us a book of collected poems by Mary Oliver.  They know that she is one of our favorites, and they know her Cape connection.  I have been enjoying reading more of Mary Oliver’s poetry, trying to savor each one.  The poem I’d like to share with you is called “When I Am Among Trees.”  It is from her work called “Thirst,” written in 2006.

When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust,

equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness, and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

   but walk slowly and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

“And you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.”

May we appreciate all the good gifts God shares with us, in each season of our lives.  Like the trees, who have so much to teach us, may we also remember we too, have come into the world to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor John