Sunday, January 1, 2023

January 1: New Year, New Book, Same Ole Me

Greetings, faithful disciples!

Welcome to a new year of Saint Marty.  My goal for the next 365 days is to remain a faithful, daily blogger.  I'm not sure how realistic that goal is.  However, since this is a day of new beginnings, let's give it a whirl.

Now, I know you're all wondering what the new book will be for the year 2023.  Leaving Ernest Hemingway behind, I have considered a number of options.  As you know, I started this little tradition near the beginning of this blog.  I believe the first book was Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  I have cycled through a lot of texts in the ensuing years--Moby-Dick, Charlotte's Web, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and The Old Man on the Sea, to name a few.  However, I have never chosen a collection of poems, unless you count Maggie Nelson's Bluets (which toes that fine line between prose and poetry).

This year, I've decided to focus on a book by one of my favorite poets--Mary Oliver.  The title of the book is Devotions:  The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver.  I made this choice for a few reasons.  First, Mary Oliver is just plain amazing.  Each one of her poems leaves me breathless with its beauty.  Second, Oliver was one of my friend Helen's favorite poets.  In honoring Mary Oliver, I'm also honoring the memory of my friend.  Third, because I wanted to.  My blog, my rules.

So, Day One of the Year of Mary Oliver:

I Wake Close to Morning

by:  Mary Oliver

Why do people keep asking to see
          God's identity in papers
when the darkness opening into morning
          is more than enough?
Certainly any god might turn away in disgust.
Think of Sheba approaching
          the kingdom of Solomon.
Do you think she had to ask,
          "Is this the place?"

Mary Oliver saw grace in every tiny moment she lived.  She saw it in the darkness of death as well as the coming light of a new day.  Think of that.  Living each day of your life staring into the face of God.  I think that's what Mary Oliver did.

Of course, we all struggle.  We all have times that leave us sapped and unwilling to face the blizzard of another 24 hours.  That pretty much describes my life for the last eight or nine months.  

Yet, God is out there.  We just have to peel the scales away from our stupid eyes in order to see Him.  Most of the time, we're just like kids, sitting in the backseat of the car, whining and asking, "Are we there yet?"

So, on this first day of a new year, I embrace the fact that, when I want a face-to-face with the Almighty, all I have to do is go outside and watch the sunset.  Or reach over and scratch my puppy's belly and watch her bask in the pure contentment of my attention.

Saint Marty is happy to be with Saint Mary Oliver tonight.

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