RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Mary Oliver

also

Source: also.

The link is to a Mary Oliver quote. We often say one thing and qualify it with something that is an “also.”  In this case, it is a being kind and being mischievous.

Who we each are is a rich amalgam of paradox and contradiction that points out the essential nature of differences between each of us. Differences make a difference. It is in them we discover and explore the rich tapestry of our lives and those of people we come in contact with, near and far.

By being attentive and mindful to the differences between us and paradoxes, we can experience richness in life that is unending. We discover and explore questions that have no fixed answers and invite us into vibrant conversations with each other.

Mindful

This poem is my favourite by Mary Oliver. It took on more significance in the last week, as I defended my dissertation and completed my PhD requirements.

Every day I see or hear something that more or less

kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle

in the haystack of light. It was what I was born for – to look, to listen,

to lose myself inside this soft world – to instruct myself over and over

in joy, and acclamation. Nor am I talking about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful, the very extravagant – but of the ordinary, the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations. Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help

but grow wise with such teachings as these – the untrimmable light

of the world, the ocean’s shine, the prayers that are made out of grass?

I find the idea that the daily life I live, which I often take-for-granted, is essential to my growing wise. The dissertation and research took on that form, as I gathered the lived-experiences of several teachers, including myself and explored how we are becoming teachers.

It is in the daily lives we live, our autobiographies, that we find the richest date, even though it sometimes slips through our fingers in the midst of the busyness we experience. Our stories call us to stop, be mindful of them, and seek meaning in the thoughtful questions we ask.

I find wise teachings in the untrimmable light of the world.

When Death Comes

Although the title sounds eerie, Mary Oliver‘s poem is about how we can live life. To live a life as fully as she describes, we can seek to be mindful and attentive to each moment as we live through it.d

Several years ago, Kathy and I drove out to pick up her mother who had a form of non-verbal dementia. It was about 5:30 AM and the sun was just peeking up over the horizon as we drove into it on the way home. As I drove, I felt a movement beside me and turned to see my mother-in-law smiling and pointing at the fields with freshly cut hay laying on the fields. Even thought she did not speak, the moment somehow spoke to her as it reminded her of days on the farm during haying season.

Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that we find the extraordinary in the ordinary. That experienced reminded me of what I might otherwise take-for-granted: a beautiful morning in the company of others.

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 measles-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 is 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.

Solitude. A Photographic Journey.

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least, and it is commonly more than that, sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolu…

Source: Solitude. A Photographic Journey.

The photographs are wonderful and a quote accompanies each speaking to the essential nature of spending time with our self. It is in reflective moments that we spend in solitude that we rediscover who we are in trying to make our self whole.

The Hasidic scholar, educator, political activist, and philosopher Martin Buber said “solitude is the place of purification.” Through dialogue with our self, others, and the world, we grow to understand who we are and our place in the world in relationship to others.

The Shadow

Last night, as I posted, the words of a paragraph began to take shape as a poem and Mary Oliver’s words echoed for me.

Today, I took those words and echoes and finished the poem. It has been some time since I wrote a poem. Perhaps, without the urgency of writing a dissertation, this just happened. As well, the break without a need to read and write may have helped and freshened my desire to write differently.

There is no sense of urgency.

Here, I am in the shadow of nature

It uplifts, holding me close.

Nature reminds of less mechanical ways and times;

Of just being and living in the moment.

Pelicans dive bomb the surf in an instinctive search,

Oblivious to me, they bob on the waves.

At night, stars fill darkness and stillness,

They wait to be touched.

Oxen pull a plow across the hardpan soil,

They follow a deep-rooted instinct lost on me

The horse trotts a path, familiar to it

I sway, recalling greater comfort the last time I rode.

I recall days past.

I unsmother moments, days and experiences

My dreams call out to me;

They breathe life into my being.

Here, I sense what it might mean to live and just be.

Without urgency, there is a lightness in my gait.

The Poet Dreams of the Mountain

Kathy and I were in Cuba for a week. I think I am back on track with the blog. As well, I submitted a draft of my dissertation to the committee and am waiting to hear back from them.

It was nice to go and just be for a few days. Sometimes, we need to just look back and contemplate, without anything other than being present and in the moment. I think that is what Mary Oliver is getting at in this poem. I found that reading, writing, re-reading, and re-writing consumed my days.

For few days, I found there was no urgency. It was peaceful to walk on the beach, watching pelicans dive bomb into the surf. It was inspiring to look up at night and see the heavens filled with stars, only occasionally disrupted by a distant light house beacon. It was enjoyable to be behind an ox and plow for a few minutes. When I rode a horse, I remembered days past. We need to unsmother those moments, those days and experiences so our dreams come back to us and breathe life into our souls.

Sometimes I grow weary of the days, with all their fits and starts.
I want to climb some old gray mountains, slowly, taking
The rest of my lifetime to do it, resting often, sleeping
Under the pines or, above them, on the unclothed rocks.
I want to see how many stars are still in the sky
That we have smothered for years now, a century at least.
I want to look back at everything, forgiving it all,
And peaceful, knowing the last thing there is to know.
All that urgency! Not what the earth is about!
How silent the trees, their poetry being of themselves only.
I want to take slow steps, and think appropriate thoughts.
In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall.

The world offers itself to your imagination ~ Mary Oliver

“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 a…

Source: The world offers itself to your imagination ~ Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver is one of my many favorite poets. The poem Wild Geese, which is the poem these lines are from, comes from Poetry Showcase.

In the poem, Mary Oliver reminds us that we are part of a larger family and are being called home. When we are mindful, we can hear who and what calls us and we can imagine what that means to each of us. Even in the busyness of our living, there is something calling us to awaken and listen more closely.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: