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Fresh Quotes: Mary Oliver

via Fresh Quotes: Mary Oliver

Nancy posted this over two years ago and reblogged it on her site Strawberry Indigo after Mary Oliver passed away.

I noted the other day what draws me to Mary Oliver’s poetry are the questions, direct and indirect she poses. Several years ago, I concluded a presentation on Mindful Servant-Leadership with the following question from her poem Summer Day with this quote: “Tell me what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?”

Another quote Nancy shared which fits is “Instructions for a living a life/Pay attention/Be astonished/Tell about it.” This raises questions about how I pay attention, how we reveal being astonished, and how I give an account of myself and respond through stories. Rather than answers, as Rilke says, “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms.” Without preconceived answers, there is eloquence and beauty in one’s questions, living themselves out in ever broadening circles.

Mary Oliver reminds me to “some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” At my age, I understand myself as a river meandering through the landscape rather than cutting through rocks. Perhaps, this appears predictable, but I ask “what is invisible and moves with currents below the surface? What has life taught me? How do I share with others, who often are disinclined to slow down, stop, and listen?”

What I recall is I did the same, filled with busyness and urgency of life, not in the moment, but in some future I chased. Instead of meandering, I was a rushing river carving out a path without concern for what might appear. The second river flows through a narrow channel, with high banks I cannot see over. The first river flows in ways I can look back and ahead, understanding there is mystery flowing below the surface. What is obvious is often superficial, rather than mystical.

Above Numa Falls

 

The Wisdom of the Universe in a Blade of Grass

via The Wisdom of the Universe in a Blade of Grass

Strawberry Indigo posted a wonderful piece that included some of my favourite writers: Walt Whitman, Mary Oliver, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Rabindranath Tagore each writing about a blade of grass and its wisdom.

It reminded me of the passage from Matthew 6:26 about lilies of the field, which exist for the sole purpose of their existence: “consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.They don’t toil, neither do they spin.” Other writers have made reference to lilies of the field. For example, Edith Wharton critiqued the rich and famous for their idle ways.

To be is to live fully and experience in living. It is to be present, living in the moment and mindful of the world as we experience it.

Daffodils, Lake, and Mountain in Glacier

Kathy took this picture of flowers, grass, trees, a lake, and mountains in Glacier National Park. Each of them just exists to be in the world, filling a particular role. One role is to make the world a better and beautiful place.

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