Tag Archives: Mary Oliver

Summer Bliss

Feeling the shock in my solar plexus of loosing everything that I just wrote I sit and stare at the empty screen. It is kind of funny to be noticing my own disbelief, the sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach as I press the UNDO button over and over again while hearing in my head: “What have I done?” .

Two hummingbirds come and hover around my head, one on each side. Maybe they are trying to balance my brain. I smile at the thought. Or perhaps they have come to comfort me, which is rather unlikely. But I do like the idea. They sure take my mind of what is no more and instead I breathe in the sweet summer air and enjoy the gentle buzzing as the little helicopter birds check out the colourful clothing hanging on the line. I strung up a long cord between the trees and it feels like I am sitting in a room with walls made of towels, bedding and clothing.

June’s unexpected heat wave brought back something that I didn’t know I had been missing. In my youth I would spend many days and hours just reading novels. Riding my bike to the beach or pool on those long hot summer days you would always find at least one book in my bag. Alternating between swimming and lying at the beach reading, life was full of simple pleasures and endless reading. The epic classics like War and Peace, Doctor Zhivago, Anna Karenina, Beyond Sing The Woods and many others opened my heart and mind to different worlds, different world views and of course the human journey in a story created by brilliant diverse writers.

With no escaping the incredible heat other than dipping into the lake or ocean I found myself with very little energy or motivation to even move in the last week of June. So I picked up a novel from the library and found myself reading for hours and hours till deep into the night not wanting to break the spell of the story. A visit to one of my neighbours who shares the love of reading resulted in bringing back a little more treasures. Just holding these books in my hands and turning the pages brought pleasure. It almost felt like I was slowly remembering an old part of me. How sweet it felt to drop the to-do list and instead read to my heart’s content for just the pure pleasure of it.

Sleeping outside most nights brought more magic. Drifting in and out of sleep only to see the sparkling sky every time I opened my eyes, while hearing the whales’ deep breathing and watching Grandmother Moon travel across the sky were also unexpected gifts. And one night the wind came and cooled me like no fan could. Finally I slept so deep I didn’t wake up till the sun was already high in the sky hidden behind clouds.

The cooler temperatures however brought an army of wasps. These great warriors do not let the hummingbirds return to their feeder and have chased me from the deck as well. I have moved my lounge chair and found a different spot to hang out and enjoy these beautiful summer days. Feeling deeply content with simple pleasures like dreaming up new variations of ice tea, finding more novels to order through the library or reading a good poem or two I pause to take in all this beauty.

I hope you are able to fully enjoy this summer and perhaps remember something that makes your heart sing. Sometimes just the memory is enough and other times we may dip our toes back into what we used to love.

And speaking of good poems, here is one that came to me this morning as I sat in the early morning light out on the bluff. I opened a book randomly and this was the poem that greeted me:

Rice

It grew in the black mud.

It grew under the tiger’s orange paws.

Its stems thinner than candles, and as straight.

Its leaves like the feathers of egrets, but green.

The grains cresting, wanting to burst.

Oh, blood of the tiger.

I don’t want you just to sit down at the table.

I don’t want you just to eat, and be content.

I want you to walk out into the fields

where the water is shining, and the rice has risen.

I want you to stand there, far from the white tablecloth.

I want you to fill your hands with the mud, like a blessing.

~ by Mary Oliver (from her book “Devotions”)

And off to the garden I go….

The Scrawny Caterpillar

Once upon a time there was a little caterpillar who did not want to do what other caterpillars did: eat all day. Instead she wanted to see and experience the beauty of the world around her. Often you could see her sitting on the highest leaves of the tree looking at the ever-changing landscape. She loved watching all the creatures in the forest and took delight in whenever one took time to talk to her. But she didn’t get much eating done and consequently was much smaller than her peers.

The other caterpillars were too busy eating to notice. One day Grandmother Bear walked by and right away saw the scrawny caterpillar sitting on a leaf looking out at the world. She asked the caterpillar why she wasn’t eating like all the other caterpillars. “Are you sick? ” she asked. “Is this why you don’t eat as much as the others? The little caterpillar shook her head. “No!” she replied and explained that she just didn’t think all the hard work of finding food and eating constantly was what life was all about. She wanted to just experience the beauty of the forest and the world around her. The wise old bear shook her big head when she heard this and said: “You know that you are a caterpillar and eating is what all caterpillars must do, so that they can evolve to the next stage of becoming a butterfly.” After she spoke the big old bear continued on her journey and disappeared behind the trees.

The scrawny caterpillar had listened carefully to what Grandmother Bear had told her, but didn’t really understand what it meant to be a butterfly or how to even get there. After the old bear had left she sat in silence for a long while and watched all the other caterpillars in their busyness and noticed how much bigger they were. She asked one closest to her if he was happy doing what he was doing. He looked at her with a puzzled look thinking about what she had asked. He then answered slowly speaking with his mouth still full: “I am doing what my inner nature is prompting me to do. I don’t really think about if it makes me happy. I just eat, enjoy being in the moment and trust that it is what I am meant to be doing right now”. Then he took another big bite and turned to crawl to a new leaf that was beckoning him.

The little caterpillar thought about his answer and wondered if she should try this. She could always go back to doing what she loved to do: sit in nature and just be. As she took a bite off the leaf she was sitting on, she allowed herself to tune into her own inner knowing. This started taking her to the best food to eat and soon she felt very full and ready for something….

As she listened closely to her own inner guidance she found a special place where she carefully began to spin a silk chrysalis around herself. From the outside it looked like she was resting, but on the inside many transformations started taking place. Then one day when she was done all the forming and changing on the inside another prompting came. It was time to come out of her chrysalis. Slowly but surely she emerged from her cocoon as a beautiful blue butterfly. Her wings were still soft from having been in the tight enclosure. But after a rest she felt the urge to move her wings for the very first time. Blood pumped into them and soon she was flapping them vigorously. She knew when she was ready to take flight. Something inside her just knew!

In that very moment Grandmother Bear magically appeared again walking down the trail towards her. She immediately saw the beautiful blue butterfly and showed no surprise when it spoke to her: “I want to thank you Grandmother Bear for taking the time to speak to me and telling me of my destiny. I didn’t know what you meant by what you said, but I did listen and now I understand.” She then gracefully spread her beautiful blue wings and lifted effortlessly off the branch she had been sitting on. Dancing joyfully around the bear’s head before flying off to the nearest flower she drank for the first time the sweet nectar of life and never questioned again her own inner knowing and allowed herself to be guided from one beautiful flower to the next, delighting in each of them and in just being herself.

The End

Wild Geese

by 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 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.