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Posts tagged ‘Mary Oliver’

Poetry Inspires Life Dance

Crystal Cove, Laguna Beach, California

Are you passionate about being alive?

Words and rhythm grab me. I realize I’ve always enveloped this perspective, even as a pigtailed girl on the lookout for ladybugs. I never want to become jaded and bitter, sightless. I want to wake up with fresh eyes every day, orientate toward appreciation, and know that the world conspires with us and for us, not against us. I seek meaning and significance in the ordinary.
Maybe you think and feel the same way I do.

Poetry opens portals to appreciation, to seeing. The shape of words in my mouth, together with images and sensation in my body guide and provoke aliveness. Some poets have a particular gift of vision. Mary Oliver is tops in my world. I discovered her when I attended the University of California, Irvine, and enrolled in a poetry class with professor and poet Michael Ryan. That was eighteen years ago. I relish every one of her books, period.

Oliver’s book, Evidence: Poems arrived to me in Alaska this week. I am slowly inhaling the pages. I’ve belly-laughed—startling my dogs. I’ve wept. With very few words, Oliver paints reality. Her artistry accompanies me in my workshop preparation for “Learning to Trust Love” that will be offered at WOMENSPEAK 2010, an international gathering of women in Mobile, Alabama, March 12-14, 2010 .

I share this poem, and encourage you to discover poets that inspire a life dance in you.

May I never not be frisky,
May I never not be risqué.

May my ashes, when you have them, friend,
and give them to the ocean,

leap in the froth of the waves,
still loving movement,

still ready, beyond all else,
to dance for the world.

–Mary Oliver, Evidence: Poems, 2010

This is my prayer, too. I want to “dance for the world.”
What prays alive in you?
Who are the poets that accompany you?


Good, enough? Give thanks.

A few nights ago, during a telephone conversation, a friend in his twenties shared, “You’re telling me I’m good enough just the way I am? That’s hard for me to believe. How come we never hear that message?”
I am sad. His words ring true.
I encouraged, “You are good enough. Just like this, right now. You are, and I am. We all are. No matter the circumstance. Certainly we can always be better, and there is value in striving for more. But, today, right now, you are good, enough.”

His words and my response  wrestle in me during this week of thanksgiving. I ponder, “what is good, enough?”

Then I remember “Wild Geese” a favorite Mary Oliver poem  found in Dream Works (1994). I dare you to toss her words into your heart. Give thanks.

Wild Geese
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.
–Mary Oliver

Giving Thanks
I gaze into my own heart, notice the specific people in my life, and the increasing thirst in the world for healing and hope.  I am grateful, for my life and yours, for breath and  life, no matter how abundant or fragmented.
It is time to announce our place in the world, invite others in out of the cold to break bread, gather at our table. There is enough when we share with love. Let us love what we love, and love one another with welcoming presence. We all belong. This starting place is good, enough.

Who will you invite in out of the cold to join you at table?
What lives in your heart of thanksgiving?