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Grace and Time – “Don’t Worry” by Mary Oliver

by Steve Krout
August 14, 2020

I recently went on a morning hike at Providence Canyon in Lumpkin, Georgia. As I usually do, I threw a book in my backpack before taking off. I love to stop periodically and take in a few pages of spiritual writing as I hike a trail. On that morning, I chose to take The Confessions of St. Augustine with me. Stopping around 10 AM, the time our prayer bell rings in the morning, I sat looking out over the canyon as I ate a simple breakfast which consisted of a honey and peanut butter sandwich and a handful of figs I picked from one of our trees. After relaxing there a while, I pulled out a small black notebook and quickly wrote down this Haiku:

Nurtured by fresh figs
I hike with Saint Augustine
Through the canyon trails.

Shortly after writing those lines, I packed everything up and started on the trail again. As time went on, I began to meditate on a poem by Mary Oliver titled “Don’t Worry:”

Things take the time they take. Don’t
How many roads did Saint Augustine follow
before he became Saint Augustine?

Augustine, who in his own words, “followed after the sweeping tide of passions” and departed from God in his youth would go on to write some of Christianity’s most important works: Confessions, The City of God, and On The Trinity. It is in Confessions, which was written between 397 and 400 AD when Augustine was in his early 40s, that readers are able to peer down many of the roads that Augustine followed before he became Saint Augustine.
Rachel Held Evans once wrote, “Grace is just a doctrine when we withhold it from ourselves.” Grace must be lived and breathed. Perhaps you are not where you want to be today — Breathe. Live into the grace offered to you from God. And, don’t worry. Things take the time they take.

“Don’t Worry” appears in Mary Oliver’s Felicity (2015).

Mary Oliver was an American poet that lived from September 10, 1935 – August 17, 2019. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984 and the National Book Award for Poetry in 1992. Notable works include American Primitive (1983), Evidence (2009), and Blue Horses (2015).

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