October Ministry Theme


By Marlene J. Geary, Chair, Sunday Services Committee

“In the meantime,  There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair, Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem From insignificance. The happy morning is over, The night of agony still to come; the time is noon: When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing…”

– From “For the Time Being” by W. H. Auden

In this excerpt from his poem “For the Time Being,” W. H. Auden speaks of the time between: those days and minutes and hours when we live between the major events of our existence. The time between is the time you spend in the car between games and events when you’re serving as a taxi ser-vice for your kids. The time between is the unceremonious dinner after dinner that your family shares, aside from the great turkey dinners and holiday feasts. The time between is the day upon day that you spend working, waiting for your escape to the beach or the mountains or simply your own back yard. The time between is when you’re waiting for your tea to steep or coffee to brew, when you pick up the paper or rake the leaves.

We’re filled with gratitude, or we’re reminded of it, when the major events come: holidays, wed-dings, births, deaths, wins and losses, promotions, tournaments, cruises, transitions. We’re grateful that we have so much: love, warmth, kindness, food, material things, opportunities.

We spent this summer talking about noticing miracles of all kinds. And so our discussion contin-ues with gratitude: there are gifts even in these mid-times that aren’t about the highs and lows, mira-cles for which we can be grateful at any time.

But in the dull times, the time being in which we spend so much of our days, gratitude doesn’t usually come first to mind. And so Auden tells us that even during these in-between times, we must practice our scales of rejoicing.

For the time being, he tells us, life goes on, life moves forward, there are bills to be paid and verbs to learn. And for the time being, in these moments-between, we can practice rejoicing, we can practice being filled with gratitude. And just as the practicing of a musician makes her more skilled for music, so the practicing of gratitude makes us more skilled for being grateful.

Gratitude By Mary Oliver

What did you notice?

The dew snail; the low-flying sparrow; the bat, on the wind, in the dark; big-chested geese, in the V of sleekest performance; the soft toad, patient in the hot sand; the sweet-hungry ants; the uproar of mice in the empty house; the tin music of the cricket’s body; the blouse of the goldenrod.

What did you hear?

The thrush greeting the morning; the little bluebirds in their hot box; the salty talk of the wren, then the deep cup of the hour of silence.

What did you admire?

The oaks, letting down their dark and hairy fruit; the carrot, rising in its elongated waist; the onion, sheet after sheet, curved inward to the pale green wand; at the end of summer the brassy dust, the almost liq-uid beauty of the flowers; then the ferns, scrawned black by the frost.

What astonished you?

The swallows making their dip and turn over the water.

What would you like to see again?

My dog: her energy and exuberance, her willing-ness, her language beyond all nimbleness of tongue, her recklessness, her loyalty, her sweetness, her sturdy legs, her curled black lip, her snap.

What was most tender?

Queen Anne’s lace, with its parsnip root; the everlasting in its bonnets of wool; the kinks and turns of the tupelo’s body; the tall, blank banks of sand; the clam, clamped down.

What was most wonderful?

The sea, and its wide shoulders; the sea and its triangles; the sea lying back on its long athlete’s spine.

What did you think was happening?

The green breast of the hummingbird; the eye of the pond; the wet face of the lily; the bright, puckered knee of the broken oak; the red tulip of the fox’s mouth; the up-swing, the down-pour, the frayed sleeve of the first snow—

so the gods shake us from our sleep.