Monday, September 10, 2012


  by Mary Oliver

Oh, do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude--
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in this broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

A monastery is in the business of changing lives--our own and maybe yours if you visit too often. The women who came to the retreat this weekend are in such danger, as are the L'Arche community who celebrated 40 years of their Erie houses at our Glinodo Center on Saturday. And all the people who came to Sunday liturgy and heard our homilist (who regularly changes lives, I fear) are in danger, too--if they keep coming and keep listening.

We went for a ride to our Presque Isle State Park and saw early September scenes like this one. I've gone there way too much over the years. It has changed my life considerably.