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Tag Archives: Mary Oliver

Prayer for a Field Mouse

Pat Riviere-Seel’s poem has a Mary Oliver feel where she honours a small animal that we might even notice in our daily walks. It is a blessing and prayer to have all that Nature offers us.

We soak in the world and find extraordinary in the ordinary.

Bless the gray mouse

that found her way
into the recycle bin.
Bless her tiny body,
no bigger than my thumb,
huddled and numb
against the hard side.
Bless her bright eye,
a frightened gleaming
that opened to me
and the nest she made
from shredded paper,
all I could offer.
Bless her last hours
alone under the lamp
with food and water near.
Bless this brief life
I might have ended
had she stayed hidden
inside the insulation.
Bless her body returned
to earth, no more
or less than any creature.

Wild Geese

Mary Oliver wrote this beautiful poem about sensing and perceiving Nature through direct experiences. Maurice Merleau Ponty wrote about the phenomenology of perception which is the about the way body and its senses act as gateways in perceiving the world. Our body is not an only a thing, it is an object that researches the world.

When we “the soft animal of your body” experience and sense Nature, we are in Nature. We have images for our imagination that fill our hearts and souls so fully. We belong in ways that we cannot as an observer standing outside. We are part of a community that includes all of Nature.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

Straight Talk From the Fox

Mary Oliver, one of my many favourite poets, speaks often of our relationship both to and in nature. We are not separate from nature, but a part of it and relate to all its elements, sentient and non-sentient. We relate to nature and all its elements as a participant and not an external, passive observer.

Our observations are not something we can full grasp and write down. The closest we come is expressing what we feel in writing poetry and sharing photography.

Quite often, we are dumb to what happens around us. Other moments, we awake and soak it in through all our senses, embodying what the fox tells us and feeling so close to what we experience in those moments.

Listen says fox it is music to run

over the hills to lick

dew from the leaves to nose along

the edges of the ponds to smell the fat

ducks in their bright feathers but

far out, safe in their rafts of

sleep. It is like

music to visit the orchard, to find

the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the

rabbit with his fast-beating heart. Death itself

is a music. Nobody has ever come close to

writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot

be told. It is flesh and bones

changing shape and with good cause, mercy

is a little child beside such an invention. It is

music to wander the black back roads

outside of town no one awake or wondering

if anything miraculous is ever going to

happen, totally dumb to the fact of every

moment’s miracle. Don’t think I haven’t

peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons

making love, arguing, talking about God

as if he were an idea instead of the grass,

instead of the stars, the rabbit caught

in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought

home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is

responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not

give my life for a thousand of yours.

Just Dance

Just Dance.

Author and educator William W. Purkey is credited with the following quote:

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

I have seen it credited to the great Satchel Paige who pitched in the Negro Leagues and was pioneer in breaking the colour barrier in major league baseball.

The link is to a short article with a quote from Anne Lamott that ends with the line: “Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance!”

What links the three together is the story-telling quality they share. Sometimes we have to trust the person–the character–we are. This is revealed in the stories we tell and the living we undertake. Living life is a gift and when we live fully, trusting who we are in living this life this one wild and precious life paraphrasing Mary Oliver.

The Other Kingdoms

It is Sabbath and winter arrived over night. It snowed and is colder. Mary Oliver`s poem speaks about the way the Inuit use many expressions describing snow. In doing so, they are mindful and aware of the world they live in. It speaks to them and shares its experiences in ways words used are meaningful. But, it happens only when we are present and attentive of extraordinary events co-mingling with the ordinary world we think we experience. We rush past the world and lose the words it speaks quickly. We lose the kingdom we live in unless we slow down and drink from its cup fully.

When we slow down, we grow wild and are in the wild world around us and in us. The wildness animates us and we live more fully. Snow today means slippery roads, drivers who have forgotten what it means to drive in the snow, and a blanket beginning to cover the ground as it slumbers. Snow means more than just one word to me. It is how I experience the snow that speaks of snow. There is nobility in the titles the world carries that we have not given names for and can not find the words for those titles.

Consider the other kingdoms.  The
trees, for example, with their mellow-sounding
titles: oak, aspen, willow.
Or the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
different arrivals.  Or the creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze.  Their
infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be.  Thus the world
grows rich, grows wild, and you too,
grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too
were born to be.

There is only one Earth…

There is only one Earth….

I am re-reading Rethinking Nature an anthology of philosophical writings about seeing humans living inside nature and nature residing inside us. There is a co-inhabiting involved. Despite familiarity and intimacy, we cannot fully encounter and understand nature anymore than we fully encounter and understand our self. It is in mystery, that beauty lies.

The linked poem speaks to the objectifying nature has undergone at the hands of human belief that we are dominant in nature. In objectifying nature, we objectify ourselves. We cannot live in nature and see it as outside our living.

Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Mary Oliver, and many other poets write about nature as a place. Place does not equate to ownership. It is about something special that holds our spirit in place and grounds our living. There is an essence and spirit in place that cannot be quantified. It is seen in the early morning dew, the thundering storms, and a moose calmly eating a few feet away.

affirmations

affirmations.

When we get up to face the day, it is nice to have a few words which help us move into the day. These affirmations provide different ways to speak into the day quietly regardless of what we face.

The post reminded me of writing by Parker Palmer, Thomas Merton, Wendell Berry, and Mary Oliver amongst many. The quieter we are, the more we still our mind and body, the more able we are to hear the soul speak its words of wisdom. Courage grows from the heart. The word courage shares the same roots as the French word for heart, coeur. When we take heart, courage emerges.

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