RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Mary Oliver

Praying

Mary Oliver writes wonderful, often short, poetry and this poem is no exception. The small and overlooked things in nature seem to call to her so she can share their words with the world.

When we just pay attention, we notice people and things that we might overlook in our haste to move through the world and our days. Praying is a doorway, not a contest. Prayer calls upon each of us to listen and give thanks for the world and its gifts. It is in those mindful and attentive moments that the world speaks to us and it is in silence that we hear its words.

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Wild Geese

Mary Oliver is one of my favourite poets. I find her poems call me to spend time, reflect quietly, and read them anew many times. I think what I consistently get out of her poetry is that we are not alone in the world.

We live together, but it is not just a human world. It is a world full of other beings, objects, and roles that shape our lives and we, in turn, shape the world. Most of the time, our relationships with the world, others, and things is unconscious. The world exists out there somewhere in taken-for-granted ways.

When we are mindfull and present, we notice the world. Mary Oliver uses the words harsh and exciting, but we are not accustomed to the novelty that continuously emerges and, when it calls, it seems harsh. As we live more fully, the world calls to us and we hear it. The harsh sounds help us remain attuned to the world.

The world excites us with its refreshing newness. We discover the extraordinary in the ordinary; what we have taken-for-granted.

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.

Patience: Darkness and light, conscious and unconscious

Night after night, darkness enters the face of the lily which, lightly, closes its five walls around itself, and its purse of honey, and its fragrance, and is content to stand there in the garden, …

Source: Patience: Darkness and light, conscious and unconscious

The link includes a lovely picture of lily accompanied by a Mary Oliver poem, The Lily. The poem reminds me of the passage from Luke describing the lilies and wild flower, just being and growing.

Nature is what it is. There is a mindfulness in its creation and how it dresses. The lilies wait in their splendor for us to notice them and realize how they are always present. Nature and lilies teach us. To paraphrase Confucius, they open the door and we enter when we are ready.

Lingering in Happiness

Mary Oliver writes mystical and magical poetry. The words, the silences, and the images invoke and evoke something deep within my spirit. The etymologies of invoke and evoke, along with vocation, is “to call” in a ministering sense.

For me, teaching was/is a calling. I am still becoming a teacher. I reflect on what I experienced and arrive at new understandings about what those experience means. Emmanuel Levinas described an event as something that transcends time and place.

In that sense, becoming a teacher is an event as it continues to happen in many ways. Not only am I making sense of what that means and who I am, others do, as well. Even who I am becoming is an intersubjective event that shared with others.

Similar to the rain drops that slowly fall and nourish the oak, becoming some one is something that takes time. The drops and memories may disappear, but not vanish. They leave traces in the tree that grows and the person who is always becoming.

After rain after many days without rain,
it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees,
and the dampness there, married now to gravity,
falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground
where it will disappear – but not, of course, vanish
except to our eyes. The roots of the oaks will have their share,
and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss;
a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole’s tunnel;
and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

Angels In Your Head

“You wouldn’t believe what once or twice I have seen.  I’ll just tell you this: only if there are angels in your head will you ever, possibly, see one.”  – Mary Oliver I consider eagles…

Source: Angels In Your Head

Mimi writes about eagles being a spirit animal and her good fortune in having 46 of them guide her on her walks. We live in Alberta where bald eagles fly over the east slopes of the Rocky Mountains as they migrate from their winter and summer nesting areas. When we visit the farm, we see the Rockies from the highway and a pair nested there each spring and fall. For us, it was a rare sighting.

Last weekend, we drove home from a birthday party west of Edmonton. As we drove, there was a bald eagle in the ditch. I think it is unusual to see them this far east of the Rockies and it might be that spring is arriving a bit early.

Mary Oliver’s quote at the top calls us to be mindful and attentive. Every now and then, we see the unexpected, as if we had angels in our heads. In those moments, we sense that something is different, and not just see, and turn in the right direction.

Spring

Source: Spring

Mary Oliver is one of my favourite poets. There is something deeply spiritual about her poetry that finds its way into my heart.

I was not familiar with this poem. Poetry allows us to imagine that we have wings. With those wings. we tap our experiences more fully as we fly with others who join us. When we share the journey with others, it becomes much richer. It is not only our journey.

Live

Notes: Full poem here: a blind flaneur. Poem Source: quotes from books

Source: Live

David posted this wonderful Mary Oliver quote. We can embrace the world as a place that amazes us and not merely one we visit in passing. I love the paradox of simultaneously being bride and bridegroom embracing and being amazed.

When we live fully, we engage in a conversation full of questions that can never be fully answered, but that guide us in our journey. This life is not about a planned legacy, but one that emerges in the memories we leave for others.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,560 other followers

%d bloggers like this: