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“For Sheer Delight and Gratitude”

By November 30, 2015 5 Comments

Good morning, readers and friends, and welcome to Advent. Today marks my last post as a regular writer for The Twelve; perhaps I’ll be back as a guest now and then but I’m ready to give my spot over to the next writer who feels the tug to contribute to this space. I feel at a loss for words, actually, as I try to convey what this blog has been for me these past four years. I’m grateful for the opportunity it has provided for me to reflect in the company of others. I’m grateful for the contributions of all the other regular and guest writers, and for the conversations their work has provoked. I’m grateful for the readers who take the time to pause and ponder. Your feedback has helped me grow as a writer and reminds me that writing is ultimately never a solo endeavor. Posting one’s thoughts on the internet can be a vulnerable exercise, but The Twelve has felt like a welcoming place. I won’t say a “safe” space because I trust that anytime we search out loud for words of truth about ourselves, our traditions, and even about God, we necessarily are drawn into territory where courage and curiosity are more important than safety. I know this practice of writing for The Twelve has drawn me out of my comfort zone on many occasions, where I have dared myself to be more honest, dared myself to lament, dared myself to find and articulate hope.

As this Advent season of expectation begins, I have played in my mind with the multiple meanings of the question, “what are you waiting for?” On one hand, it asks what it is that we await. On the other, it asks why we are still waiting. I feel like both of those questions are simmering for me. Maybe for you too. I have been re-examining just what kind of Savior I expect will arrive, and I have been trying to identify my own hesitations in responding to the One who has already arrived. The tensions of this season can bring struggle and new life when we awaken to them.

I’ll close with the poem Invitation by Mary Oliver; I included it in my very first post on The Twelve back in 2011. Thank you for lingering on these words every now and then, and for joining in the “sheer delight and gratitude” with which we mark that, indeed, “it is a serious thing / just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in the broken world.”


Mary Oliver


Oh do you have time

to linger

for just a little while

out of your busy


and very important day

for the goldfinches

that have gathered

in a field of thistles


for a musical battle,

to see who can sing

the highest note,

or the lowest,


or the most expressive of mirth,

or the most tender?

Their strong, blunt beaks

drink the air


as they strive


not for your sake

and not for mine


and not for the sake of winning

but for sheer delight and gratitude—

believe us, they say,

it is a serious thing


just to be alive

on this fresh morning

in the broken world.

I beg of you,


do not walk by

without pausing

to attend to this

rather ridiculous performance.


It could mean something.

It could mean everything.

It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:

You must change your life.


(Source: Red Bird: Poems

Published by Beacon Press)



  • Theresa Latini says:

    Thank you for this poem and for your voice these past four years, Jessica! I look forward to hearing you in other venues.

  • Jan Heerspink says:

    Jessica, thanks for this. And thanks for so many blogs in The Twelve over the last four years. Know that your thoughts and writing are appreciated by many.

  • Arlyn Bossenbrook says:

    Beautiful! God loves and rewards praising, positive things including the little tweety birds – we people can take a lesson – thanks for the reminder.

  • Scott Hoezee says:

    Good work here these past years, Jessica! Come back and guest blog for us now and then!

  • Susan SB says:

    Thank you for writing! I will miss reading your posts, but look forward to continued conversation in the flesh.

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