Maybe by Mary Oliver

I love this poem for multiple reasons.

I love this poem because I believe Mary Oliver captured the emotions of the disciples after Jesus rebuked the wind of a deadly storm, and caused the waves to be still.  The gospel of Mark reports “They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!'” (Mark 4:41, New International Version)

I love this poem for the phrase “something different crossing the threshold.”  Jesus was someone different crossing the threshold, someone putting everything that had gone before into a new context.  Mary Oliver points out that people have a hard time with something different crossing the threshold.

I love this poem because I’m waiting for an opportunity to use the phrase “like a tremor of pure sunlight”

I love this poem because it describes things I feel about my study of Steps to Knowledge.  If it really is something different crossing the threshold, I would find that much scarier than if it were just another self-development program.

Sweet Jesus, talking
his melancholy madness,
stood up in the boat
and the sea lay down,

silky and sorry,
So everybody was saved
that night.
But you know how it is

when something
different crosses
the threshold — the uncles
mutter together,

the women walk away,
the young brother begins
to sharpen his knife.
Nobody knows what the soul is.

It comes and goes
like the wind over the water —
sometimes, for days,
you don’t think of it.

Maybe, after the sermon,
after the multitude was fed,
one or two of them felt
the soul slip forth

like a tremor of pure sunlight
before exhaustion,
that wants to swallow everything,
gripped their bones and left them

miserable and sleepy,
as they are now, forgetting
how the wind tore at the sails
before he rose and talked to it —

tender and luminous and demanding
as he always was —
a thousand times more frightening
than the killer sea.


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