“What I Can Do”
by Mary Oliver
The television has two instruments that control it.
I get confused.
The washer asks me, do you want regular or delicate?
Honestly, I just want clean.
Everything is like that.
I won’t even mention cell phones.
I can turn on the light of the lamp beside my chair
where a book is waiting, but that’s about it.
Oh yes, and I can strike a match and make fire.
This poem speaks to me today because it feels like everything is complicated. Computers, online shopping, Facebook, email. Complicated. The simplicity of a book seems old fashioned, although there were times in my life when that was the primary technology that I engaged with. Now, sad to say, I’m more likely to read things on my phone than to sit down and read a book.
Mary Oliver’s line about the washing machine makes me laugh. And her last line about making a fire is affirming. Reading a book may be simple, but fire is more simple still. Elemental. Watching a fire burn is the opposite of complicated. The poem’s title reminds me that this is my choice: I can keep engaging with my technology; I can keep engaging with a consumerist busy world of noise and stress--or I can make simpler choices.
I try to make time every day for spiritual practice: playing music, going for a walk, writing in my journal, or meditation. This is the antidote to the complicated world. Done mindfully, my spiritual practice grounds me in simplicity and reminds me of what is important. Like lighting a fire. Like reading a book.
God of Life and Love, Still Small Voice Within, hear my prayer.
May I take the time to listen in stillness. May I have the wisdom to turn off the cell phone and take a break from the computer and the radio, the car and the errands.
Divine One, I know that you are always there when I take time to see you, to hear you, to look within, to feel the breath, to hear the wind.
May simplicity bless me, and bless everyone. Amen.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
I’m shocked and saddened by the political violence in Washington DC today. I’m scared for the future of our democracy and the peace of our cities. I’m angry because Mr. Trump encouraged his people to do this, and didn’t stop them. I’m angry because the police presence and police response to the white mob of Trump supporters is totally different from the response to Black Lives Matter protestors. I am sad for this nation, for the loss of peace at its center. The act of democratic, peaceful transfer of power has been a hallmark of this nation for more than a century. We can no longer say that. This is now a violent transition of power.
As this unrest unfolds on our TV screens and Americans are riveted by it, I invite all of us to take care of ourselves. Let us breathe and calm ourselves. Let us reach out to loved ones, friends and neighbors and keep each other safe. Let’s talk and pray together. Let’s look for what this teaches us about ourselves and our nation, what this calls us to do and how to live.
As people of conscience and of faith, we denounce violence. We lift up compassion, generosity, humility, and community. We dream of a community, a city, and a nation without violence; with public safety and public health a priority. We still believe this is possible, and we will work to make it so.
Divine spirit within us, between us, and beyond us, may there be peace.
May the rioters be done with their vandalism and cease. May the angry mob put down their flags and their weapons, and remember their humanity.
May the lawmakers be safe in their chambers and their offices. May the citizens of the nation’s capital be safe in their homes and businesses and the public places of the city.
Divine spirit, bless America. May all Americans see this violence and be ashamed. May this nation rise from this moment into a more loving, more just, more peaceful tomorrow.
By all that is holy, may it be so.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
From December 28 through January 3, Guy Newland will be the contact person in lieu of Drew: (email@example.com, 989.944.0534). There will be no Minister’s Column on December 31.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Drew's office hours are suspended until further notice. However, he is reachable at any time via email, phone, or text.
Day off: Friday.
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