Friday, June 20, 2008

Vacation company.

One of the joys of these driving holidays in the mountains is getting into truly quirky bookstores -- I have a fondness for Bacchus Books, whence I never come away without something of value. This trip, it was a Carol Shields title I'd never seen before, "A Celibate Season" -- a novel in letters, which Shields co-wrote with...somebody else...(blush to say I've forgotten the name). Highly entertaining, I recommend it.

And I had taken along a satchel full of miscellaneous theology, of which I really read only a part of Jaroslav Pelikan's "The Melody of Theology: A Philosophical Dictionary" -- very stimulating it was, too, and satisfyingly opinionated without being cranky.

In some ways it was a very Mary Oliver-ish kind of vacation trip - lots and lots of deer, herons too, and even four bears -- had there been any owls or foxes visible, it would have been just about perfect from the point of view of her bestiary. I had with me one volume of her "New and Selected Poems" (or "Selected and New," I'm not perfectly sure!) -- and this was the one that hit home most powerfully.


"Those who disappointed, betrayed, scarified! Those who would still put their hands upon me! Those who belong to the past!

How many of us have weighted the years with groaning and weeping? How many years have I done it how many nights spent panting hating grieving, oh, merciless, pitiless remembrances!

I walk over the green hillsides, I lie down on the harsh, sun-floavored blades and bundles of grass; the grass cares nothing about me, it doesn't want anything from me, it rises to its own purpose, and sweetly, following the single holy dictum: to be itself, to let the sky be the sky, to let a young girl be a young girl freely -- to let a middle-aged woman be, comfortably, a middle-aged woman.

Those bloody sharps and flats -- those endless calamities of the personal past. Bah! I disown them from the rest of my life, in which I mean to rest."


Diane M. Roth said...

great post! everything about it, bookstores, books, nature, Mary O. We like quirky bookstores too, but there are fewer and fewer of them.... except used bookstores. On our most recent trip I found a children's book about the history of Ellis Island that I picked up. I'd love to read Pelikan's The Melody of Theology.

Terri said...

Oh, well, of course. I love the idea of your vacation, bookstores and all. But mostly I love that Mary Oliver poem. I have a funeral on Tuesday for a beloved parishioner. He, the one who died, and his wife were very fond of poetry, especially Mary Oliver...and I am using 3 (yes 3) of her poems in the sermon for the funeral. Normally I might use one poem, or part of a poem...but, well, this one is different...Quite wonderful - your post and all...also, I too appreciate Pelikan....although I haven't read the particular book you mention...

Crimson Rambler said...

I clicked on that particular poem because -- I think -- I had been re-reading my own journals from the last...15? years. And this time through, I kept noticing how (and how often) my friends had said, "Rambler, you keep telling yourself stories to make yourself sad, why do you do that?" And I'm thinking "rest of my life" thoughts...and two and two came together with an echoing clang, forming four, as they tend to voila.

Jan said...

I love the poem. Quirky bookstores are wonderful, but none exist here in south TX. I'll find some when I go visit in WA state in August though.