Sunday Best – March 27, 2022

Some times are lumpy with loss. This week two formative teachers passed away, Madeleine Korbel Albright and Edward C. Johnson III. I could tell how Secretary Albright delighted groups of young students at Wellesley with stories of sisterhood and how Mr. Johnson would come to my holiday parties even though I was a Very Unimportant employee of his at the time. I could note how their quotes, “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” and “we are not here for our own amusement” echo constantly in my mind. I could list dozens of lessons that they taught, not through lecture but through example.

Beyond all of that telling and noting and listing, one common attribute shines through for both of them: sincere, unbridled enthusiasm and curiosity. When Madeleine met a new person, she wanted to know the person, weaving together context and community and connection. When Mr. Johnson encountered a new idea, he wanted to pull it apart and poke at the pieces, seeing what was really new and what rhymed with history.

Dear ones, may we stay awake to the wonders of our world.

May we illuminate them for others.

May we inspire with our attention.

May we be married to amazement.

May we take the world into our arms.



When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
      – Mary Oliver
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