Married to Amazement

Rev. Sharon K. Dittmar in pulpit

Reverend Sharon Dittmar, MidAmerica Region Congregational Life Consultant

"The wheel of life turns. Summer passes and autumn beckons. This is true within and without. In the autumn of the year and my life I am uncovering new and/or buried truths, turning once again. Strangely (or perhaps not strange at all?) I am called back to this line from the poet Mary Oliver, “When it is all over, I want to say all my life I was a bride married to amazement.” What does it mean to be married to amazement? How can we retain this essence regardless of season of life as well as heartbreak and hope, and what do we receive when we do?"


Opening Words

“Invitation” Shel Silverstein

If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

Opening Hymn

Teal Hymnal #1010 “We Give Thanks” or Grey Hymnal #389 “Gathered Here”


*“When Death Comes” by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

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.

*Note on the reading – the language of When Death Comes is gendered. I would introduce it by saying, “the following is a wonderful poem by Mary Oliver. The language is gendered so I invite you to edit it for yourself in the most meaningful, supportive, and celebratory way possible.”

Closing Hymn

Teal Hymnal #1024 “When the Spirit Says Do”
Grey Hymnal #38 “Morning Has Broken”


Go out into the world in peace
Have Courage
Hold on to what is good
Return to no person evil for evil

Strengthen the fainthearted
Support the weak
Help the suffering
Honor all persons

About the Author

Sharon Dittmar

Reverend Dittmar graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1997. She served one year as Interim Minister at the Gathering at Northern Hills (Cincinnati, OH 1997-1998), and eighteen years as Minister at First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati (1998-2016). In 2016 she began work as Congregational Life...

For more information contact .