An Autumn Walk With Mary


I have a long list of people that I would like to invite to take a walk through nature with me, preferably on the serpentine path that circles Radnor Lake here in Nashville, or beside the twinkling aspen trees that border the Snake River in Jackson Hole. Autumn is a resounding trumpet to the soul to walk in nature. A promenade with the poet Mary Oliver would be top on my list. I have a feeling I would see things, rather see God, in new ways if only to mirror her stepping for even one jaunt through nature.

Several years ago my friend, Tallu Quinn, introduced me to this Pulitzer Prize winning poet through a collection of her poems entitled, Red Bird. It was probably one of the nicest gifts a friend has bestowed upon me. Since, I have added Thirst, Dream Work, and Why I Wake Early to my bedside collection. Part of knowing and experiencing deeper the Divine in my life comes from witnessing how others experience God in their lives. If you read any of Mary’s poems, you feel as if God has taken you by the hand for a walk through the beauty, the wonder, and the mystery of His gift of creation. Like me, Mary Oliver too, is on a pilgrimage, determined to experience more of the sacred in whatever measure of time she is graced here on earth. She said, “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”

Following are a couple of my favorites of her spiritual musings so beautifully articulated, so honest in her seeking and yearning for the sacred, the beauty, and the constant whisperings of God through nature in her life!

I. Invitation

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.


II. Song of the Builders

On a summer morning

I sat down

on a hillside

to think about God-


a worthy pastime.

Near me, I saw

a single cricket;

it was moving the grains of the hillside


this way and that way.

How great was its energy,

how humble its effort.

Let us hope

it will always be like this,

each of us going on

in our inexplicable ways

building the universe.

I pray this week, you would take a walk with God on a leaf-strewn path. That you would stop, delight, be filled with gratitude for the Divine Presence that is all around us from the golden dappled leaves curiously thrown across the path of Autumn, to the secret inner calling from God to build the universe, to be better versions of ourselves, to seek the beauty of God’s mysterious and holy presence just by opening our eyes and especially our hearts! Celebrate the seasons in nature, but especially the seasons in your own lives, knowing God is beautifully ever-present! I leave you with a final line from Mary to begin your week,

That God had a plan, I do not doubt. 

But what if His plan was, that we would do better?


Live in Hope,



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