Poetry

How to Give Your Broken Mess the Stink Eye

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It’s Friday morning. The sun slants across the field outside my window, casting shadows on the gnarly woods around the creek. The kitchen counter is filled with scraps of lists that cast their own shadow on the day. The laundry needs folding, the basement smells like our dog has another kidney infection and the morning’s coffee drips on the floor bearing witness not only to the brokenness of the machine, but to the jankyness of the whole world. The boring loudness of the day already starts to push against my soul.

And yet I can’t stop thinking about a poem I discovered last month, about the way it makes me feel and the truths it echoes. It is actually possible to halt the nagging push. Delight has this uncanny ability to give all that is soul crushing, the stink eye.

It has the power of both noun and verb, emotion and action. I’m realizing delight is about relationship and designed to be the reward of intimacy. It’s the gift God gives as a survival tool in the broken, reeking mess of life.

It requires a certain mindfulness though. Intentional eyes, wide open to see the goodness of the Creator of all. He is in charge and I am not and that frees me up to take delight in Him, even if his ways seem wrong or hurtful, mysterious or broken.

Delight is a mutual affection. It’s the bedroom talk between two people in love. Its open handed trusting my heart’s desires to the only One who can appropriately handle them.

This kind of delight is what so many search for in Valentine’s Day, a pitiful, warped pseudo type of love. I like Ms. Oliver’s version much better. She describes the search for delight in the ordinary, common and drab, the daily presentations. I’m drawn to her words because I know delight can kill us every day, in the best of ways.

When you set out to delight in him as Psalm 37:4 suggests, he shows up in ways so mind blowing beautiful its almost embarrassing. He longs for a relationship with you so intimate, so tender, so intense and unique that it defies description and for the most part is best kept between you and Him.

The pleasure derived from mutual delight with God should make you feel like you’re his favorite. Because you are.

Mindful
by Mary Oliver

Every day I see or I hear
something that more or less

kills me with delight,
that leaves me like a needle

in the haystack of light.
It is 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?

(taken from Why I Wake Early: New Poems by Mary Oliver)

3 thoughts on “How to Give Your Broken Mess the Stink Eye

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