“Here is an amazement–once I was twenty years old and in every motion of my body there was a delicious ease, and in every motion of the green earth there was a hint of paradise, and now I am sixty years old, and it is the same.” *

There hasn’t been a delicious ease in my body since the age of six when I got polio, and I’m sixty-eight not sixty, but specifics are immaterial. Mary Oliver has, once again, reached deep inside my heart and given exquisite voice to my feelings.

Playing Frank Chacksfield’s Summertime in Venice today on iTunes I felt young and in love and it hit me that I’ve spent most of my life in love. The thought amazed me! It’s been a long life and one with the normal share of problems and sorrows, so what’s going on here?

The answer is, I’m blessed. Sounds simple, atheists might say simple-minded, but neither would be the case. My life is a complicated process demanding constant adjustments in thoughts and actions, in beliefs and reactions, but there are certain constants that bring me joy regardless of good times or bad. The major constant in my life has been my Christian faith and that faith has led me to perpetual thanksgiving.

This blessing of gratitude colors all my thoughts and life views and grows stronger and stronger by the day. To begin with, God loves me. What could deserve more gratitude than that?

My great joy comes in prayer, in nature, in art and beauty of all kinds. And so I am in love and in a state of wonder at the sheer magnitude of God’s creation. But I am not always happy. The miseries of this world are far too apparent and too appalling to ignore or minimize. A friend writes today about the seven deadly sins and votes greed to the top of the list. Yes, I agree. And want to shake the apathy from the placid and the evil out of the wicked, but who will listen, who will care? Most importantly, who will change?

So, I ride the waves of bliss and despair and my heart suffers, but scratch the surface of that bleeding heart and as it bleeds the hint of paradise appears, the promise, the glory of a God who is righteous and who will judge fairly, with both compassion and vengeance.

Mary Oliver lives in that state of wonder, too, senses and articulates that hint of paradise in nearly every poem. I’m grateful to her for adding to my hope, for singing her psalms of praise and joy, for loving the world and God as I do.

*This quote appears smack in the middle of Ms. Oliver’s poem Am I not among the Early Risers?, from both Thirst, and New and Selected Poems–Volume Two.

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