The Giftby Mary OliverI wanted to thank the mockingbird for the vigor of his song.Every day he sang from the rim of the field, while I pickedblueberries or just idled in the sun.Every day he came fluttering by to show me, and why not,the white blossoms in his wings.So one day I went there with a machine, and played some songs ofMahler.The mockingbird stopped singing, he came close and seemedto listen.Now when I go down to the field, a little Mahler spillsthrough the sputters of his song.How happy I am, lounging in the light, listening as the musicfloats by!And I give thanks also for my mind, that thought of givinga gift.And mostly I’m grateful that I take this world so seriously.
One of my favorite Tolkien quotes comes from The Lord of the Rings, where Frodo wishes that the events of the current day had not happened in his time. Gandalf the wizard wisely responds: “so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” I too feel Frodo’s sense of longing, wishing that current events, holiday stress, and the exhaustion that comes with them could just go away.
As we enter a new church year, it is sometimes difficult to feel excited about celebrating the coming of Christ. This beautiful poem by Mary Oliver, however, reminds me what is most important about the season of Advent. She tells of a gift that she gave to a mockingbird, in gratitude for his daily song. She then realizes that she is thankful for the ability to give a gift, and grateful that she takes “this world so seriously”. We also focus on giving gifts during this time of year, and on giving thanks. But sometimes, it can be hard to take this world seriously when we are surrounded by a myriad of distractions and worries.
As we enter this season, we need to be reminded that even in the midst of our busy lives, we can rest in the knowledge that God takes this world seriously. He takes this world so seriously, in fact, that he even sent his only son, Jesus, to be born in a stable, and to take upon himself the pain and suffering of humanity. God takes this world seriously. So seriously that he would allow his only son to be crucified in order to redeem you and I.
If God takes this world so seriously, then it is our calling to take it seriously as well-to seek out the lost, give food to the hungry, and care for the orphan and stranger. We have been given a great gift, by a great God, who takes us and our suffering seriously. Should we not, as Christians, do the same for others around us?
Almighty God-you have sent us the gift of your Son, to take our nature upon himself, and to redeem all of humankind. Grant us the grace, as we await the celebration of your most precious gift, to take this world seriously, and to offer your love to all in need of hope and healing. May we come to know your compassion more fully, in order to live out our calling as the Body of Christ. Through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Amanda Bourne, Intern, Episcopal Service Corps, Society of St. John the Evangelist, Cambridge, MA, (and former Intern at Ware Church)