A Challenge


I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

~ Mary Oliver

This morning it was the moon, so bright just above the thick-with-evergreens hill to the south. It appeared as though, if I was standing on top of that hill, I would be able to reach up and touch it. An involuntary “oh!” escaped from between my lips when I saw it.

I have grown accustomed to seeing such delights, though they are made no less wonder-full by their regularity, since I retired and started to pay attention.

I see divinity at every turn in this created world—in the turning of the seasons, in trees, and vegetables growing in the garden, even in persistent weeds that have no business there. I am not fanatical about eradicating them from my plot. My garden isn’t perfect. I don’t thin enough, weed enough, cultivate enough, but I still see perfection in the imperfection.

Lately, I’ve been challenging myself.

As an image-bearer of the Creator, I long held the unspoken (and ofttimes spoken) belief that with such wonder came great and heavy responsibility. To be more. To do more. And I always fell short.

I don’t believe that any more.

What I need to do is learn to love God and people—and do it. Imperfectly, to be sure, but it’s as simple and complicated as that. Pulling weeds and cultivating the metaphorical soil, all that’s important. Doing these things from a place of continual transformation into one who is learning to love, step by stumbling step, is far different than doing so from a legalistic judgemental place of rules and laws.

The challenge I set before myself is to look beyond the mystery and magic I see in creation, and look for it in  people—those who bear the image of God’s hand upon them—that’s all of them. This is not as easy for me.

As created beings we are God’s image bearers and isn’t a burden meant to drive me to do more and be better. It’s an invitation to look at the person in front of me and see that image, and love that image the way I’m able to in that moment. And to do it again and again and learn to do it well according to how I was created, not to follow a formula or hit a mark someone sets for me.

Maybe one day I’ll get to a place where, every day, I see or hear someone that more or less kills me with delight.

I don’t know.

That’s my challenge.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.