There are moments I shared with my dad that have felt deeply sacred to me. I struggle at times knowing what I should share with my little world. After listening to an interview with Mary Oliver yesterday, I concluded that writers, write and I will keep writing.
If you don’t know who Mary Oliver is, she was a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and passed away just yesterday. I was drawn to listen to what Mary had to say three years ago when she was 80 years old.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for, except I listened deeply. I listened to what she said and what she didn’t say. I learned her writing was born from the darkness of her childhood…it was her escape and nature was her inspiration.
One of Mary’s most popular poems “The Summer Day” was about a grasshopper and as I listened to it being read, I entered into that place of when I was a young girl playing with grasshoppers. The line that spoke loudly on the inside simply said,
“I do know how to pay attention…”
I recommend either reading or listening to the entire poem. (Attached below)The poem concludes with two questions:
“Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
One beautiful truth about Mary Oliver’s story is she wrote because she was a writer. She never imagined having an audience. She didn’t set out with a marketing plan to grow her influence. She simply did what she was created to do. In that place, Mary was as content as she could be. Mary was going to write whether we were going to read her words or not.
I’ve been writing since I was a little girl…and talking. I wrote on anything and everything and talked to anyone and everyone. I came out of my mother’s womb with questions, concerns and demands. I’ve slipped into pits, been pushed into pits and I’ve jumped into pits, sadly, with my eyes wide-open.
I’ve been across the board in my faith from Baptist to Assemblies of God, to my secret heart-love of the Catholic faith. Elizabeth Gilbert would call me a Hummingbird. (You can look that up if you’re interested to know the difference between people who are Hummingbirds OR Jack Hammers. Both needed.)
Speaking of the Catholic faith, I recently read that St. Augustine cried out to God shortly before he passed away,
“Too late have I loved You.”
When I read those words, I felt a painful connection. I thought of both my dad and I. I have a treasured video of me asking him what’s the most important thing he wants me to know before he goes to Jesus. The first few minutes are things I expected for him to say, but then he talks about some of his own deep regrets. I wanted to shut off the video, but I didn’t. My heart wanted to interrupt him, but I didn’t. I listened and I grieved with him. My dad knew he was forgiven, it wasn’t that…it was…just that there were things about his life he wanted to be different.
Sitting on my dad’s porch in that moment, I felt shifts happening in the depths of my soul. I couldn’t take my dad’s pain away on any level. I felt crushed and helpless…but that moment didn’t compare to the morning of my dad’s last day.
I am going to share this moment in the way it comes out of my heart. It’s a moment I’ve had a hard time processing:
Sitting in a mostly dark room, a place not chosen.
Exhausted in every way, jaws clenched and sore.
Desperate for suffering to end.
His body jerking, my mind begging, “God, please take him home today.”
Starting to question purpose.
Feeling helpless. Feeling held.
Words forming, gaze shifting from earthly dad to Heavenly One.
Praise arising, body still jerking.
“Where are you, God?”
Burden lifting, “he’s Yours God, not mine.”
Peace settles. Violent storm brews.
Battle rages until the release comes.
“Take His hand, dad.”
One last breath.
His suffering forever ended.
I suppose I won’t be moving on from this place until He moves me from this place. I suppose even more that if my one wild and precious life is spent wrestling through words and the meaning of experiences, I shall be content.