Easter Day, 2021: Sun

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Link to the poem, “The Sun” by Mary Oliver: http://www.phys.unm.edu/~tw/fas/yits/archive/oliver_thesun.html

For the video version,  scroll down

I begin with that Mary Oliver poem:
“…and have you felt for anything
such wild love —
do you think there is anywhere, in any
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure
that fills you,
as the (son)
reaches out,
as (he) warms you
as you stand there,
empty-handed…” – Mary Oliver, The Sun

Well, really,
Mark has met Mary Oliver
and raised her bid.
Mark ends his Gospel
at an empty tomb
from which his closest friends
run away shaking with dread —
and tell no one
”…for the were afraid.”

This is Mark’s answer to Mary Oliver’s question:
“do you think there is anywhere, in any
a word billowing enough…”
to describe that experience?

Mary, Mary, and Salome – who
the Gospel of Thomas says were disciples –
have braved everything else
the men were too scared to withstand.
But this one thing,
this empty tomb,
was too much even for them.

Something so terrifying
they told no one.

I want to simply be present
to their fear
and respect Mark’s silence.
I want to recognize
there is no word or words
billowing enough
to hold the moment
we are pointing at.

I do not want to be one of those
who yammers on
about things he or she has no business
speculating about,
because they don’t know.

I do not want to be one of those
at the graveside
who tells the family
that God wanted
their son or daughter or spouse or parent
in an attempt to fill the terrible gap
and empty tomb
that all of us look into
more than once
in our lifetimes.

Instead, I want to be Mary Oliver
who recognizes
there is no word or words
billowing enough
to deliver anything sensible.

I want to be Mark
who understands the story never ends
and does not try to tie it altogether
and put a bow on it.

You may have a theory
about what this story is about,
and you may have a speculation
that fills in the gaps,
but I am going to be so bold as to say:
“You do not know.”
The archbishop don’t know.
The pope don’t know.
The Dali Lama don’t know.
The preacher
the teacher
the physicist
and the biologist – they don’t know.

Matthew, Luke, and John
were not content to leave off
where Mark does –
running away from the empty tomb
and telling no one,
for they were afraid.
But they didn’t know either.

What is our problem?
What is it about us
that we cannot stand in awe of mystery
and simply be present to it –
and have that be enough?

What is it about us
that we have to color in every box and shape
and leave nothing empty at the edges?

This story
brings us back to the mountaintop
where Moses crouched down
between the rocks
and watched as God passed by –
but only the backside of God
because to look upon the face
the Creator Of All That Is
would mean certain death.
We cannot look upon God.
We cannot not know God.
The part,
teeny and tiny as we are,

does not get to see
or know
or understand
the whole
of which it is only one small part.

We only get glimpses –
a fragrance
a mere scent
or reverberation
of what has already passed by.
That is all we get,
and to have any more
is to disappear
into the holy ether.

So today we celebrate
the end of our story.
Isn’t that fantastic?!

We celebrate the end,
which is a brazen total mystery
pointing toward something that is infinite.

We live one day at a time
in the midst of the infinite.
Hold that for a moment.

We live one day at a time
with the infinite.
We live in a restricted zone,
unable to leave it
without dying first.
And all around us,
on every side
and in every moment
is the infinite
that cannot be restricted to any place
but which also moves through
our space
like a spring wind
carrying the hope of summer.

Well, that is the best I can do
at saying something
about such wild love
that there is nothing, in any language,
no word billowing enough
for the pleasure
of standing here, empty-handed…