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."