Lenten writings: The box

The uses of sorrow

By Mary Oliver

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.

What is the box you were given? 

Is it tattered or shiny designer? Shaped round like a grand mother’s hat box? What does it smell like: moth balls, or the faint scent of rose water? Are their tastes in the box, flavors of family holiday meals?

Have you peeked inside?

I peeked, nearly 18 years ago. The lid lifted with a crazy prayer: “I want to know.”

It never fit back on again. I am still unpacking it. But I wouldn’t trade the knowing for all the perfect p.k.’s (preacher’s kids) in the world. 
People give things up for Lent, or so I hear. Maybe this year for Lent you might climb the ladder of your heart and bring down a box or two. 


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