a King and a Kingfisher

There is a beautiful Times op-ed today about poets and the power they have to call us beyond our suffering - into hope and healing.

This is something that I’m all about these days.

Clearly a fan and learned guide, the author weaves her way through poets and their works, giving the reader a view through some awfully wonderful windows. The article itself reads like a walk over stepping stones; small squares of rhyme and prose that provide a way forward through the heartbreak of our days.
By the article’s end, we arrive at a poem by Mary Oliver called, the Kingfisher. Of course, Oliver has a masterful eye and practiced pen and the combination of the two never fails to transport her listener (because it’s all about her voice, isn’t it?) into the moment, right where she is looking.
Stuck between the lines and the words, we as the audience feel the rub of the wings, the cool of the water and the instinctual hunger that devours the catch. We are also drawn in, like a falling feather, to the longing of doing one thing that is repeated to perfection and its consistent reward: Fish, devour, repeat.

After reading the poem several times, I came to the realization that the intent is to kind of trick you into the same kind of repetition; to read to the end and then start over.  The ending is the beginning and so on. As long as the kingfisher is on the hunt, the reader returns to the top.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Also, after reading several times, my mind began to drift to this call toward perfect repetition. What is it that I would want to perfect after practicing thousands of time?

"Seek first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well." Matthew 6:33

This is the thing. Everyday, I acknowledge the fight between what my spirit know is truth and what my heart decides that would be best for me to do. Seldom is there alignment between the two. Instead, I long to practice diving into the waters of heaven and surfacing with righteousness, the right relationship with God that Jesus provides and the disciple practices. Over and over, splashing beneath the surface, where for one breath at a time, I might gaze at the deep that calls to deep.

C.S. Lewis, the Neil Armstrong of theological imagination, said this about Matthew 6:33, "Aim at heaven and you will get the earth thrown in. Aim at the earth and you will get neither."

The kingfisher isn’t trying to please anyone. It doesn’t scramble for belonging. The kingfisher is obedient to its name. It is satisfied by its practiced response to the deep longing of its belly. Oh, that I would hunger for heaven as deeply.

Jesus invites those who follow him to dive into his life that we might re-emerge with more of him, satisfying and healing.

I want to be a kingfisher for this King. I want to be stuck in a poem where the rhythm is grace and author is God.

Having spent time in a poem that returns you to the beginning as soon as you reach the end, my mind has made the leap to do the same with the Gospel passage. The end is the beginning, so there we start once more.

I wonder if that wasn’t the point all along.

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