To Live in the Mercy of God

Today in our Lent reflection booklet which was available in Church, the writer mentioned this poem as worthy of our consideration in light of today’s readings.


To Live in the Mercy of God


   To lie back under the tallest

   oldest trees. How far the stems

   rise, rise

               before ribs of shelter



   To live in the mercy of God. The complete

   sentence too adequate, has no give.

   Awe, not comfort. Stone, elbows of

   stony wood beneath lenient  

   moss bed.


   And awe suddenly

   passing beyond itself. Becomes

   a form of comfort.

                      Becomes the steady 

   air you glide on, arms

   stretched like the wings of flying foxes. 

   To hear the multiple silence

   of trees, the rainy  

   forest depths of their listening.


   To float, upheld,

                as salt water

                would hold you,

                                        once you dared.




   To live in the mercy of God.


   To feel vibrate the enraptured


   waterfall flinging itself

   unabating down and down

                              to clenched fists of rock.  

   Swiftness of plunge,

   hour after year after century,

                                                   O or Ah

   uninterrupted, voice


                              To breathe

   spray. The smoke of it.


   of steelwhite foam, glissades

   of fugitive jade barely perceptible. Such passion—

   rage or joy?

                              Thus, not mild, not temperate,

   God’s love for the world. Vast

   flood of mercy

                      flung on resistance.


Denise Levertov, “To Live in the Mercy of God” from Sands from the Well. Copyright © 1996 by Denise Levertov.