The name for this blog comes from the Hebrew word merchab. Merchab is a masculine noun that appears most often in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means a broad or roomy place, an expansive place, a wide place. Read more...

May 1, 2009

Prophetic Confession

I have always thought of Mary Oliver as a nature poet. It turns out she is also a prophet. In her poem “The Empire” Oliver speaks with a scorching prophetic voice. Anyone running for election to political office or aspiring to any kind of leadership should be required to read this poem every day.

Of The Empire

We will be known as a culture that feared death
and adored power, that tried to vanquish insecurity
for the few and cared little for the penury of the
many. We will be known as a culture that taught
and rewarded the amassing of things, that spoke
little if at all about the quality of life for
people (other people), for dogs, for rivers. All
the world, in our eyes, they will say, was a
commodity. And they will say that this structure
was held together politically, which it was, and
they will say also that our politics was no more
than an apparatus to accommodate the feelings of
the heart, and that the heart, in those days,
was small, and hard, and full of meanness.

(from Red Bird by Mary Oliver)

Oliver does not separate herself from “The Empire;” it is “We” who have “feared death/ and adored power.” This is not finger pointing. It is honest, soul-searching confession.

I wonder if I can be as honest.

When have I “adored power”? How have I “tried to vanquish” the trivial little insecurities of my life while caring little for the poverty that surrounds me on every side? What power do material “things” still have in my life while I continue to fail to speak about “the quality of life for/people (other people), for dogs, for rivers”?

I wonder if I am willing to see where my heart has been “small, and hard, and full of meanness.”

Κύριε eλέησον, Χριστe eλέησον, Κύριε eλέησον.

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