One of my favorite poets is Mary Oliver, a faithful Christian woman who writes exquisitely about finding God in the beauty of nature. As I think of our Lenten theme, Rooted, I remember a poem by Oliver called “When I Am among the Trees.” In this poem, Oliver talks about the joy of being around the willows, the honey locust, the beech and oaks and pines. She says they save her every day; they call out, “Stay awhile… rest…” And they remind her of the most important lesson of knowing that she, as well as each of us, has come into the world to be filled with light and to shine.
Oliver goes to this place of profound peace and safety because she desperately needs it. Oliver feels disconnected and separated. She writes, “I am so distant from the hope of myself, to which I have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly and bow often.”
I think all of us can relate to these feelings—the sense of being unrooted in this fast-paced, overstimulated, often scary world. We all need a place where we can go to rest and stay a while. Especially during Lent, we are called to these places to go more deeply into ourselves and our relationship with God. The Psalmist invites us to do this, to become like the trees that Oliver describes: to plant ourselves by streams of water so that we can be nourished and healed and prosper in all that we do. I believe this is not only to root ourselves in the depth of our own faith but also to reach out and help others root themselves in God’s great love.
So today, during this Lenten season, I ask each of us to consider: where is the place you go to be rooted?