Maybe It's Myself That I Miss
In her poem Blueberries, Mary Oliver reflects on how she lives near a market where she can buy sustainably and responsibly grown fresh blueberries all year long, shipped from places all over the world.
Then the poem shifts as she remarks:
don’t have is the field. The field they
belonged to and through the years I
began to feel I belonged to...
Maybe it’s myself that I miss…
I have to be honest, I have been wanting to write about this for a while, but every time I started to, I found that I really couldn't put into words what I was feeling. But today, it came to me.
Let me ask you a question... Have you ever had a moment when you looked around and wondered how in the world you got where you are?
Maybe you caught a good look at yourself in the mirror, and thought, "Am I really that old?" This might be disorienting because you feel the same on the inside as you always have, right?
Or you become overwhelmed with a sense of imposter syndrome at work or school, and think to yourself, "I have no idea what I am doing. Why would anyone listen to me?"
Perhaps you find yourself in a situation or a circumstance, and you can't figure out exactly how you arrived there, even though you remember some of the roads you traveled for good or ill.
Those are the moments when you might find yourself longing for the field, instead of the blueberries.
You wish you could go back and make things simpler. Your heart yearns for what is known, familiar and comforting, or quite simply a place where you were happy.
Then there's this moment of clarity that washes over you and you realize that what you are really pining for is not the field at all, but the way you felt when you were in it. But life moved on, the field faded, things changed... and maybe you changed, too.
Those moments are gifts from the Holy Spirit of God---gifts that remind and renew, convict, and connect us to the people God longs for us to be.
These moments of clarity are not meant to sink us deeper into melancholy, even though there's a temptation for that to be sure, and God knows I've given in to that temptation more than a few times.
Nostalgia is powerful---perhaps too powerful sometimes. But it can also be deceptive, especially when it keeps us from understanding the truth about ourselves.
We might miss the summer nights of our youth when we ran around catching fireflies, or sitting by a fire roasting marshmallows, but what we really miss is how we were happy then... and young... and full of unbridled hope.
This is what Lent is all about, really. We get the chance to find our way back to God, to let go of all the things that have kept us from living our very best life. We get the chance to return to God, and in so doing find ourselves.
Isn't it time to return to yourself?