Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness

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Mary Oliver’s “Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness” — a poem of love for the world in the season of autumn leaves and shorter days — arrived this morning from Canadian David Kanigan’s blog.

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing, as we must,
how the vivacity of what was, is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but what
else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

~ Mary Oliver, “Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness” in A Thousand Mornings 


Notes: Poem source – Thank you Karl @ Mindfulbalance. Photo via afaerytalelife

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Fall

Leaves are falling. The sap is finished running. Flowers fade — red,  green, yellow, purple falling into brittle brown.

Each season reflects the eternal motion of the seasons we sense within ourselves. Over a lifetime we move from the temporary wrinkles of the newborn babe to the well-worn lines and wrinkles of aging. We love to look at babies; old folks not so much.

In 1857 Adalbert Stifter pondered this in Der Nachsommer (The Post-Summer) published in English under the title Indian Summer:

“Great beauty and youth capture our attention, excite a deep pleasure; however, why shouldn’t our souls gaze at a countenance over which the years have passed? Isn’t there a story there, one unknown, full of pain or beauty, which pours its reflection into the features, a story we can read with some compassion or at least get a slight hint of its meaning? The young point toward the future; the old tell of a past.”

Fall is the favorite time for many of us. At my age, I no longer wonder why.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN 55318

Of Falls, Bungalows, Castles, and Fawns

This sermon was preached at Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska May 12, 2013 following a trip to Cambria, CA that began with Kay breaking her ankle on the way down the stairs as we were leaving for the airport. The rest is story of William Randolph Hearst desire for a bungalow that ended up as a castle, and an encounter with Mr. Excellent. The fawn story never made it into the sermon because of a forgetful preacher.

The story of the fawn is this. The morning Kay and I were preparing to leave Cambria for the trip home, I noticed a deer in the backyard pacing. There was a fawn lying on the lawn. Examining the fawn, it appeared to be alive, but was not moving, injured perhaps. The next time I looked, its eyes were closed. After examining it, I called the owner of the home we had rented to suggest that she call animal rescue. I thought there was a dead fawn in her back yard.

When we arrived home in Minnesota there was a voicemail that Animal Rescue had come and taken away the fawn only to realize that it was very much alive. It had just been born that morning. Point of the story for a Mother’s Day sermon: God is like that mother, staying nearby waiting for her newborn baby to get up.

America and “the Fall”

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange addressed the United Nations General Assembly yesterday. His speech is reminiscent of American theologian William Stringfellow who declared in 1968 that we were already living under the rule of “extra-constitutional powers and authorities” that operate covertly in the shadows of democracy.

Watch WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaking by satellite from Ecuador where he lives in exile. Unedited Politics deserves credit for posting this.  Of particular interest are references to President Obama that hold his Administration accountable while seeming to grant some credit and holding out hope that he might change things.

Julian Assange Speech to UN General Assembly: “US Trying to Erect National Secrecy Regime” – 9/26/12.

William Stringfellow

William Stringfellow – author, lay theologian, lawyer among the poor and defense attorney for Bishop James Pike and the Berrigan Brothers (Frs. Phil and Dan) – wrote the following in 1973:

“In this world as it is, in the era of time, in common history – in the epoch of the Fall, as the Bible designates this scene every principality has the elemental significance of death, notwithstanding contrary appearances. This is eminently so with respect to nations, for nations are, as Revelation indicates, the archetypical principalities… All virtues which nations elevate and idolize – military prowess, material abundance, technological sophistication, imperial grandeur, high culture, racial pride, trade, prosperity, conquest, sport, language, or whatever – are

subservient to the moral presence of death in the nation. And it is the same with the surrogate nations – the other principalities like corporations and conglomerates, ideologies and bureaucracies, and authorities and institutions of every name and description…

“The Fall is where the nation is. The Fall is the locus of America… Since the climax of America’s glorification as a nation – in the ostensible American victory in World War II, most lucidly and aptly symbolized in Hiroshima – Americans have become so beleaguered by anxiety and fatigue, so bemused and intimidated, so beset by a sense of impotence and by intuitions of calamity, that they have, for

the most part, been consigned to despair… Racial conflict has been suppressed by an elaborate apartheid; products which supposedly mean abundance turn out to contaminate or jeopardize life; the environment itself is rendered hostile; there is a pervasive Babel; privacy is a memory because surveillance is ubiquitous; institutional coercion of human beings has proliferated relentlessly. Whatever must be said of earlier times, in the past quarter century, America has become a technological totalitarianism in which hope, in its ordinary connotations, is being annihilated.”

An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land, William Stringfellow, 1973. (Bolded print added by Views from the Edge)