oh Mary Mary, why you be so contrary?

today, i'm sitting in my backyard full of stumps. 
there is no real stump story there except we keep killing trees somehow.
however, try not to be distracted by gardening tips you think I need.  I know it's hard because I just pointed verbally at something shiny (or dry and rotting), but you can do it; I know you can.
I have a different point to make.

this morning, when I open up my tiny book Joy and Strength written in 1901 by Mary Wilder Tileston (whom I picture with a doily on her head and cat on her lap), I find two opposing pages:

on the August 15th page, I am warned that "God does not require you to be perfect, but He does require you to be unceasing in your battle against every germ of sin left in you...every little speck or not stop not become wearied in your efforts."

well, just kill me now.  I'm weary just reading this.

however, only one page over on August 16th, I'm encouraged "do not fear!  do not be discouraged by your weak places!  wait for God's the stillness just believe in His name...abide...don't hurry, just wait and see Him scatter (sin) that you could not defeat."

oh Mary-- why are you are so vexing and confusing in your doily, my dear.
you make want to pinch you and your cat.
you tell me to pick myself up by my bootstraps one day, and 24 hours later, i'm to abide and chill.
what's your scheme, Schemer?

but as I sit and pinch cat-less air in frustration, I have a thought.

what if the "work" is the work to just keep on abiding and being still?
it sounds lazy, but have you tried it?
abiding is hard.
like mad hard.
being still takes a lot of energy.
it feels like it might even burn calories.
and resting is just plain exhausting.

that's enough work for anyone.

I have a hard time doing it, but even I, full of four cups of coffee and a frenetic disposition would choose it over trying to rehabilitate myself, and straighten the crooked ways in my heart.

if my "work" is to be still, and let Someone else do the work...
well then, I suppose I can live with that.

okay then.  thanks, Mary.
your cat will live to see another un-pinched day.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

(Thank you, Sally for my new favorite poem
that I can't stop mulling over)