Will Someone or Somebody Sing?


Sometimes, one line from a poem speaks to me, and I don't always know why. But I  always write those lines down and put them somewhere I can see daily until I figure it out. 

Today, this line finally made it here for a reflection: 

Will someone or somebody please start to sing? - Mary Oliver

This is the last line from Oliver's poem "The Roses."  

The poem finds the poet walking on the dunes by a beach, wondering at the salt roses in full bloom.  Something stirs within her that she likens to a horse galloping across the sand until it exhausts itself. 

And so the poet asks the roses if she can lie down among them.  And then there is the last line. 

In poetry, roses often symbolize eternal or lasting love or some deeply held emotion. Whatever the poet is feeling as she walks the dunes, gazing at them, is something she's been carrying for some time, and she finds herself weary.  

It's unclear why she wants to hear singing at that moment. She could be feeling her own mortality, the end of something, or the loss of a love.  Whatever it is, she wants to finally rest to the sound of a voice singing over her.  

Today, I'm feeling the same way, which is almost assuredly why that line spoke to me more deeply.  

When we are experiencing loss, grief, sadness, or just a general sense of our frailty and impermanence, it can be draining.  It takes a toll on our psyches, which in turn take out their frustrations on our bodies.  

Weariness amid these feelings is natural, but it can also be debilitating when we stay in that space for too long.  

Which is why I love what Oliver does in that last line of the poem.  She decides to rest, to lie down in the middle of whatever is breaking her heart, to embrace the loss but not try to carry its heavy weight anymore. 

She's not giving up; she just wants to hear singing.  Singing, in this sense, has to do with the healing properties of song, not just any music, but a song meant for her by "someone or somebody" who sees her, knows her and sings what she needs to hear. 

I also wonder if Mary Oliver brought this to mind:  The Hebrew prophet Zephaniah once offered this prophetic word of hope to the ancient Israelites: 

The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:7 

As far as I know, this is the only verse in the Bible where God is characterized as a God who sings. It's an amazing and beautiful thought, which could be what Oliver refers to. 

So what does it sound like when God sings over us?  Does it sound like the wind, or birdsong, or crashing waves?  Does it take the form of chimes, a church bell, or the sound of children's laughter? 

Or perhaps it comes to us from a familiar song we hear on the radio, one we sing with a friend, or something uplifting in a worship service at our church.  

I believe it's all of these and more.  

So, if you are sad today and weary beyond measure by a broken or wounded heart, let yourself rest in the roses of your loss, and pray as many times as you need to: 

"Will someone or somebody please start to sing?"

Then, open your mind and your heart to what songs may come.  Receive God's singing in whatever form it takes, and let yourself be restored and renewed. Whatever you have been carrying will not overcome you. 

May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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