Let me be … a tree

Worship at a recent staff retreat included the poem “More Beautiful than the Honey Locust Trees Are the Words of the Lord” by Mary Oliver. This poem appears in her book Thirst.

It explores themes of worship and nature and church and creation. Filled with rich, surprising images, the words and structure give much to ponder.

Tree 2One sentence jumped out at me as I read it. It stays with me:

Instead I went back to the woods where not a single tree turned its face away.

And I wonder. When have I turned my face away? Who are the people, my brothers and sisters, from whom I have turned my face away? Why have I turned my face away? What does it say about me that I turn my face away? How can I learn to be like a tree and not turn my face away?

And I wonder. When has the church turned its face away? When have members of a congregation, some, a few, many, all, turned their faces away? Who are the people, God’s beloved children, from whom the church and congregations turn away? What does it say about the church, about a congregation, that faces turn away? How can the church learn to be like a tree? How can a congregation learn to be like the woods?

I know, to my sorrow and shame, I know some of the times I have turned my face away. I know some of the people from whom I have turned away. I understand in some situations; in others it is not so clear why I turned away. I know some of the times that the church, and members of a congregation, have turned away.

But I don’t know all the times.

So I pray that I may be aware of my face and never turn my face away from my sisters and brothers; that I may have the grace to know when I turn my face away, because I will; that when I turn my face away, I may have the courage to repent and turn my face back to my brothers and sisters.

So I pray that I may be aware of when the church turns its face away; that I may be aware of when a congregation turns its face away; that I may have the grace and courage to work with the church and with congregations to repent and turn ts face back to my brothers and sisters.

So I pray let us be the woods let me be a tree. Amen.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Poem, Worship

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