Mary Oliver gives Instructions for Living a Life

Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Head down, thumping the keys on the computer, worrying about getting all things done.

Pay attention… the trees are changing, buds are forming, little signs of green and yellow, the wind is moving them and the sunlight is making silver flashes here and there. Stop for a moment to watch, to pay attention to what is around me outside. Stop and breathe more deeply. Stop and drop my shoulders, sit back, let the tension go.

Another day, another to-do list, another phone call to add to all the rest of stuff to do.

Be astonished… a painting on my desk catches my eye, of Mary and Martha, a reminder to be more like Mary but the painting focuses on the things Martha has to work with, food to get ready, hospitality to be offered, and I wonder how much freedom a working woman has to make the right choices.

Things to ponder in Lent, books to read, prayers to pray, confessions made, alms given.

Tell about it… when you have nothing how easy is it to sit and contemplate, to listen to holy things, to not fret about what you have to do? When you are working three jobs to make ends meet, how can you find time to sit and just ‘be’ let alone get to church? I know it is a parable, a story to astonish us. But it seems so unfair to ask this of men and women who have no time but struggle every day just to exist. Tell that story.

Image result for velazquez christ in the house of martha and mary

Diego Velazquez, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, 1618