Row Like Crazy

Mary Oliver’s prose poem “West Wind, 2” intrigues and moves me:

You are young. So you know everything. You leap into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me. Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile away and still out of sight, the churn of the water as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life toward it .

There is life without love, but it isn’t real life, because it is misses the very thing that matters most about life: being known and knowing, being loved and loving. When you feel the mist of God’s Spirit, when you hear the churning of compassion, and when you feel your heart pounding with the sheer thrill and joy of anticipated love, row—row like crazy—toward the source of the spray and the sound. You will be rowing for your life toward your life, for love toward love.