Like An Iceberg Between The Shoulders

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By Carolyn Shields

Mary Oliver might have been the first poet I’ve ever really read. Though, in all honesty, I’ve probably only ever read about five poets, if Fulton Sheen counts. But I was drawn to Oliver’s simple style and her frequent use of natural things, like swans and mushrooms, thistles and breeze. Today she died, and I wanted to share an excerpt of her poem, ‘When Death Comes,’ during these barren months.

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 the 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.

Book Excerpt From Visio Divina: Praying With Sacred Art

Praying with art is nothing new. After all, sacred art has always been created to help draw us closer to Holy; however, Visio Divina takes things a step further. Instead of merely observing the art, acknowledging it, or even appreciating it, we are invited to immerse ourselves within it during Visio Divina.

To give you an idea, we wanted to share with you an excerpt of one of the artworks featured in our new book. Without going into detail about the steps of Visio Divina, we’re gonna simplify it as follows:

  1. Open with a prayer.

  2. Pray the scripture provided twice.

  3. Allow for three minutes of silence while you allow the scripture to unfold within the painting. This is a time to gaze.

  4. Read the reflections and prompts while you gaze on the image. Do this slowly.

  5. Close with a prayer.

There’s a bit more to it, but all the details are in the book! So here’s a sneak peak at one of the greatest, Creation of Adam by Michelangelo.


And so it happened: God made every kind of wild animal, every kind of tame animal, and every kind of thing that crawls on the ground. God saw that it was good. Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth...The Lord God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him. 

So the Lord God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each living creature was then its name. The man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be a helper suited to the man.

So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman. When he brought her to the man, the man said:

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

This one shall be called ‘woman,’

for out of man this one has been taken.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame. Genesis 1:26, 2:18-25


1. Where is your eye immediately drawn to? And then where does your eye roam? Draw yourself back to the point where Adam and God are nearly touching. Whose hand is more limp and whose is more firm? What is this space?

2. Look at the colors that Adam is resting on and the colors that surround God, the figure on the right. What shape does His red cloak resemble? A brain, signifying will? A uterus, signifying life? 

3. Look at the people gathered with God. Let yourself be drawn into the woman held beneath His arm. Some believe this is Eve, held back but in God's plan while creating Adam. Where is she looking? Look how she clings to God.

4. God creates. It is the first thing we know about Him, and we know upon His creation of Adam that He made man in His image and likeness. Is this a trait that you inherited from God? The desire to create? Or an appreciation of art and beauty? Or do you wish to grow in it?

5. And what do you make after understanding that after all the wildflowers, all the stars and living creatures, that God's pinnacle of creation was man?

A Twenty Second Poem You Must Read For The New Year

One of our resolutions this year is to simply read more….though it kinda seems that resolutions were so…last millennium. Words or choosing a particular saint seems to be all the rage, but whatever. Whichever way you decide to start your new year, we can all agree that the turning over of one number, that a fresh start, and a new year simply feels good. And we wanted to share with you a poem that really spoke to us to help keep your hearts full of hope and your sights forward:

If we are to walk into the new year with hope,

we need to look to God, as well as ourselves.

When we look to the scriptures we learn

how much God desires new beginnings for us.

This is a constant theme through the sacred Word.

God refreshes, renews, heals, blesses, makes whole,

cleanses what has become mired,

clears what has become blurred,

restores what has died,

recovers what has gone astray.

Freshness | Joyce Rupp