by: Mary Oliver
Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.
So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful.
That the gift has been given.
Some days I feel young and full of energy. Other days, I feel time draining from my clock and my walk becoming slow.
Today was a slow walking day.
It's not that I didn't accomplish a lot. I did. But it felt as though I was pushing through tar all day long. I recorded a podcast episode for the library where I work. I picked my son up from school because he was sick, took him home, and tested him for COVID (negative--thank goodness). Then I drove back to the library and edited the podcast episode. At 1 p.m., I had a Zoom meeting that lasted an hour and fifteen minutes. After the meeting, I had to talk to people about room and art gallery reservations for an upcoming series of events. I picked my wife up from work, went back to the library and set up for an evening program, ordered some pizzas, met some friends for dinner and a beer, then drove back to the library to host the evening program. After all that, I drove home and collapsed on the couch after making my lunch and picking out my clothes for tomorrow.
Like I said, I accomplished things. However, the entire day was a slog.
And now, I'm sitting on my couch, thinking about all the things I have to do tomorrow.
I have a few things weighing me down at the moment. The winter semester at the university begins next week, and I always flounder with the idea of new students and new classes. I still have to finish my syllabi and adjust the schedule of my days. At the library, I'm trying to accept the fact that my office mate, and closest friend there, has moved on to another job. Another big adjustment.
Mostly, however, I'm worried about another close friend of mine. I won't go into details, but I care about him and his family a great deal. I'm not sure what is going on in his life, and I don't want to intrude on his privacy. But, he is someone whom I connect with on a deep level, and I hope that he is not struggling, That he is doing well.
It seems as though my world has suddenly shifted, and I'm fighting the gravity of that shift. As if I'm used to bouncing along the surface of the moon in great, long arcs, but now I have to walk uphill all day long.
Mary Oliver would say that it's okay to slow down. It's natural. Giving up on steadfast love. however, is incomprehensible to her. Almost a sin. Be grateful, she says, and steadfast.
On days like today, gratitude is not always easy to cultivate. It stays hidden behind the gray clouds and piles of slush and snow. But it's there.
So, Saint Marty is grateful for his sick son, who doesn't have COVID. For a job that he loves, despite the absence of a comrade. For students who need to be taught about writing and film and poetry, even if they don't think they need to be taught about writing and film and poetry. And especially for a best friend who fills Saint Marty with concern, because true friendship is so, so rare.
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