Gravitas: dignity, seriousness, or solemnity of manner.
This morning, a few days after Thanksgiving, and just before I headed off to church, I read “The Gift” by Mary Oliver. In her poem Mary writes about her gratitude for the mockingbird, specifically for “the vigor of his song” and how she delighted in gifting the mockingbird with a recording of songs of Mahler and what happened next. The final lines stayed with me when later in the day I walked along the river.
And I give thanks also for my mind that thought of giving a gift.
And mostly I’m grateful that I take this world so seriously.
Who would have thought that playing a song to a mockingbird and being so happy with the bird’s response would be considered taking the world and all that is in it “seriously?” Where is the gravitas in dueting with a mockingbird?
I walked along the river, thinking my serious thoughts, which for me was a far flung meditation on what the O So Holy Trinity could possibly mean, when out of the blue sky skimming over the water came one then two and then three mergansers! First they flew in a straight line and then the back two caught up with the first and they zoomed by as a unit; their bright white and black bodies shining in the mid-afternoon sunlight.
Aha! So this is what the Trinity looks like when it is flying over the river! Laughing at myself and my own serious contemplation I was caught by surprise again when another merganser sped by the three and my mystical visions “God is a duck times three” burst freely into four. And of course more. And more. And more.
Thinking today that the “more” is gravitas itself. Seriously!
Photo by Mantas Hesthaven from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/action-adventure-air-balance-384498/
This morning I was reading about a writing prompt that the Irish writer Padraig O Tuama gives to his students. He asks them this question. If you were right now to write a story of your life what would the first sentence be?
My mother held me in her right arm so that she could hold her open book in her left hand and still have the fingers of her right hand turn the pages of her book.
She told me, a lifetime later, how some of her happiest days were being in the hospital after giving birth to each of her 8 children where she had a few few luxurious days to read.
Of course when I heard this I was appalled and it fed right into my then current narrative which was “there was never enough attention to go around.”
Now when I look back at this moment as the start of my own life instead of as an indictment of her mothering I believe that books were given to me at an early age to open my nascent mind to a glorious world.
…who in his earthly life knew the power of quietude*
the priest was talking about Jesus
who hushed the flim-flam chatter
refused the finery of royalty
defied the calls for crowd control
shushed the incessant requests for explanations
and when the situation got testy just
walked off the cliff
or out into the boat
settled down at the table
and still passed the bread
* quietude: a state of stillness, calmness, and quiet in a person or place.
(Gratitude for Prayer for Going Back to Work by Kyle Oliver and his quote about Jesus and quietude.)
Meditation on Wisdom 6:12-16
“Wisdom is radiant and unfading,
and she is easily discerned by those who love her,
and is found by those who seek her.
She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her.
One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty,
for she will be found sitting at the gate.”
Wisdom found not by my thinking mind; only by Desire jumping me out of bed, racing me out of my dream state and into the village to seek the One who sits at the gate, welcomes the stranger, opens radiant hearts, cuts through all my foolishness, desiring to meet us face to face.
“To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding,
and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care,
because she goes about seeking those worthy of her,
and she graciously appears to them in their paths,
and meets them in every thought.”
Gracious One you are sitting in my own path. I step forward and there you are, calling to everyone who passes by:
Expect the unexpected so you can be freed from caring about the wrong things!
Image: “Blue Monk” by Randen Pederson via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
This morning I woke knowing that something has changed.
You and I followed a dream to its end
as far as one can come to the end of a dream
only to find that the our hope, once rose and white, its perfume delicious
had turned in the night to a blue cast
that even now is beginning to show form
whisper a word
call us home.
Blessed God here I am
prayer in hand
as I am
in any color.
And so: Amen.
(Thanks to Kyle Oliver at Creative Common Prayer for inspiration and support.)