Fire of Commitment: Entering Fire

Recently, members of the Worship committee, all people in our community who, each week, either lead services at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett, or who assist those who do, gathered for our quarterly meeting.  We spent about 15 minutes reading this poem–taking turns, reading with intention, creating space for one another with the words, the spaces between the words, with our voices and the cadence of our reading, watching the punctuation and deciding how to interpret it.

You can
die for it–
an idea,
or the world. People

have done so,
their small bodies be bound

to the stake,
an unforgettable
fury of light.

Reading like this, intentionally, with care, together, began to change us.  The feeling in the room changed.  The words broke us in places.  Many in the room have been involved in this question of what it is that we are willing to die for, what we are giving our lives for.  To have that named so poignantly in the first words of the poem is riveting.


this morning,
climbing the familiar hills
in the familiar
fabric of dawn, I thought

of China,
and India
and Europe, and I thought
how the sun

for everyone just
so joyfully
as it rises

under the lashes
of my own eyes, and I thought
I am so many!
What is my name?

And then the poem reminded us that even given all of the big issues that we are concerned about, to which we are giving ourselves, about which we are engaging our minds and for which we are opening our hearts, today, the sun still rises, the earth still spins, and everything we do is subject to what sun and earth do.  Not the other way around.

What is the name
of the deep breath I would take
over and over
for all of us? Call it

whatever you want, it is
happiness, it is another one
of the ways to enter
~Mary Oliver

In these days of intensity, trouble, protest, fear and fighting, there are increasing ways for us to enter fire.  For our own personal well-being, and for the sake of any future that is worth having and living into, we do well to stop today, and notice the sun rising.  Notice the flowers that are blooming and the birds that are singing.  Notice another human face without wondering whether that face supported our political opponents.  Notice happiness, and remember that it is ANOTHER of the ways to enter fire.

Bob Patrick

*”Sunrise” ~Mary Oliver

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1 Response to Fire of Commitment: Entering Fire

  1. Peggy Averyt says:

    Beautiful, inspiring words today.

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