"Of this there can be no question — creative work requires a loyalty as complete as the loyalty of water to the force of gravity. A person trudging through the wilderness of creation who does not know this — who does not swallow this — is lost. He who does not crave that roofless place eternity should stay at home." It is Mary Oliver who is writing these stunning words in her new book Upstream.
I have not forgotten this passage, because I could see how creative work and prayer work are in a way the same. They require commitment, a willingness to think out of the box, freshness, trust in unfoldment and creation, reliance on something which sometimes in the present seems invisible and dark, yet to unfold. A resilience to stick with it even if the path is difficult and the odds are against one. You know what is drawing you forward: "The working, concentrating artist is an adult who refuses interruption from himself, who remains absorbed and energized in and by the work — who is thus responsible to the work..." (Mary Oliver)
As loyal as water to the force of gravity. The Bible talks about faithfulness and obedience to good, and good alone (another word for God) - but loyalty captures beautifully the mix of calling and adventure, infused with freedom. It is natural to follow your calling - as loyal as water is to the force of gravity.
Poet Mary Oliver also opens a door to the spiritual world: "Certainly there is within each of us a self that is neither a child, nor a servant of the hours. (...) This self is out of love with the ordinary; it is out of love with time. It has a hunger for eternity."
Are we loyal to good, to our daily work of letting good, God, permeate every aspect of the day, loyal to our work for humanity and its release from pain, confusion, guilt, and the agony of a life separate from good - and from each other? Loyal to a love so deep that we can forgive without hesitation and neutralize what attempts to introduce bitter tastes into our day? We all are made for great things, made for something constructive, beautiful, precious. Because we are spiritual beings, we are so much more than the eye beholds. This understanding draws us onward - like Mary Oliver's "hunger for eternity". Loyalty to good is not a prerogative to few people. We all have an individual calling. It requires only discipline and an honest love to resist the resistance. How does water do it in not resisting gravity? Let Love do the drawing. Follow your calling like water --- when the forces of gravity are calling. Mary Baker Eddy writes: "Among the manifold soft chimes that will fill the haunted chambers of memory, this is the sweetest: "Thou hast been faithful!" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 343) You might say: Thou hast been like water.
If you need a little reminder how water willingly and gently follows the forces of gravity, listen.
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.