Today is the birthday of prize winning poet, Mary Oliver. Happy Birthday, Mary Oliver!!
I discovered the words of Mary Oliver in a bathroom of a professional building in Fremont (one of Seattle’s neighborhoods) sometime in the last few years. Someone had printed out the poem, “Wild Geese,” and taped it to the wall by the sinks. This line, perhaps the most famous, resonated deeply: “Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.”
My mindfulness teacher read me the poem, “Summer’s Day,” one evening last summer after I got back from my trip to France. She was inspired to do so after hearing my tales of how I had laid in the grass in Provence watching grasshoppers, contemplating their movements, noticing how they leap forward. Insects, – life’s little teachers.
image borrowed from Extended Yoga
“Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.”
Nearly a year after my introduction to “Summer’s Day,” I serendipitously stumbled (not a literal stumble, one of those cyber stumbles) across another part of this poem, a beautiful line that spoke to my heart: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” This line became the inspiration for my post, “Vows for the Summer Solstice.”
Mary Oliver. . . prolific in her poetry, offering so much depth and insight in her craft. And she, who was born into this world on the 10th day of September. She, like me.
Let us celebrate Mary Oliver by celebrating some of her wise words.
“Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed.”
“…there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.”
“But I also say this: that light is an invitation to happiness, and that happiness, when it’s done right, is a kind of holiness, palpable and redemptive. ”
“So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray.”
“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”
“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”
Let’s sing and dance and CELEBRATE the day, this 10th day of September. Happy Birthday!!
Thank you, Brian, for your inspiration! You are a gift to me and to this world! I remain forever grateful that our paths crossed. Until we meet again……