January Newsletter

  Pay attention.     

Be astonished.

       Tell about it.              

--Mary Oliver

When I lived in Oberlin, Kansas, I was part of a book club that met every month.  One month, they decided that, instead of a book, everyone would bring a poem to share.  I have to admit that I wasn’t very excited about the idea, although I had a great poem to bring (‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe…) I wasn’t really looking forward to the evening.

I was more than pleasantly surprised.  The variety of poems was amazing, and I did not experience the boredom I was afraid I would.  Our host, a retired high school English teacher, closed the evening with the poem I quoted above. 

It is a poem that I can easily remember, or easily find when I cannot remember it.  It also struck me as an instruction for me as I enter this new year—instructions that I really need.

 Often I do not pay attention to what is going on around me.  This poem makes me wonder which of God’s actions I have been missing by not paying attention.  My challenge is to keep my eyes, ears and heart more open.

Often I am not astonished.  I have lived long enough to become a bit jaded, and it is easy to slip into an attitude of apathy and indifference.  But if I deliberately pay attention to what God is doing in my life and in the world, I have a much better chance at being astonished.  My challenge is to keep my heart and mind more open.

As a preacher, I am in a position of talking about God’s love at least once a week.  But there are so many other opportunities to talk about God’s love and actions that I miss.  My challenge is to talk more of what I see God doing in spaces other than the church.

It is a challenge I pray I can live up to.


Rev. Linda M Willey