“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb. (Don’t Hesitate)”
― Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
Poet and Pulitzer Prize winner Mary Oliver passed away last week on January 17th. Grateful for her beautiful words and observations that inspire reflection and attention to what is before us right now.
Read poetry, write poetry, live poetry. Give into daily joy. In this very moment.
Mornings at Blackwater by Mary Oliver, Red Bird
“For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.
And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.
What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.
Fill your mind and heart with beauty and light to stay positive, to live positive and to never succumb to the magnet of negativity. Guard your heart, keep it soft. Fill your thoughts with love, forgiveness, compassion and understanding – those things that make absolutely no sense and are not warranted. And yet there is no peace without them.
Fight the good fight and live YOUR life. No regrets, unrelenting joy and a peace that passes all understanding.
Poetry, music, a sunset all have the power to put everything in perspective slowly and then suddenly. Tune out the voices that produce no fruit. Focus on thoughts and activities that drive you on the journey to your purpose. For when we live out our purpose daily, we make the world a better place.
“One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and 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 that you could save.” – Mary Oliver, The Journey
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” – Meister Eckhart
A simple glance, a quiet moment, a sliver of pause prompts a prayer. Of gratitude. Of depth. Of awareness. Sacred, holy and awe-filled moments surround us awaiting to be released into our very being. In play. In joy. In letting go of all that we carry that is not ours. A small, soothing voice of calm. Strivings cease, peace enters with ease. Amen.
“Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress.
And let our ordered live confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Breathe through the hearts of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake,
wind, and fire.
O still, small Voice of calm.”
– John G. Whittier hymn, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
Give more than is due
Laugh hard enough that you need to catch your breath
Sing out of loud, and out of tune if necessary
Dance with fervor
Dream AND then awake to transform it into reality through action
Stop trying to figure out people and love them despite their flaws, which often are our own
Play the game all out with the intention to win, if winning is not the result, celebrate the effort
Be the yeahsayer rather than the naysayer, their team has enough players
Care with full knowledge disappointment may occur, it is the caring that matters the most
Remember daily what is good and let the rest fade away
Reach beyond your reach to come into your own becoming
Exercise your entire being – body, mind, spirit and especially your heart
Live a life that will be remembered long after you pass
Be the person who enters a room and smiles ensue
Give more than you take and in the giving you receive more
Contribute – be your all – depth, breadth, height and beautiful horizon
Pour out your best and be filled again and again with possibility
Dedicated to my parents who would have been married 59 years today. 17 days away from Dad’s passing 2 years ago. A man who modeled love and contribution.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
“My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth’s loveliness.” – Michelangelo
As we fill our days with more things to do, struggling to choose and racing through only to go backwards, we need to stop and pull over.
Pull over and look around. Our tunnel vision and desperate pursuit of what’s next blinds us to what’s right in this very moment of now. In the race for the unimportant and urgent, we miss the beauty of the daily journey, those tender moments of connection and bright lights burning through the darkness.
“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau
When I look into my 3 month old great nephew Liam’s eyes, he gazes with interest and attention deep into my eyes, right to my very soul. And after the blunt force of this year, this thread of new life, of innocence, is pulling me through to the other side of unfathomable chaos.
Pull over and stare at the pine tree lighting up the winter night. Gaze into the eyes of another and let your souls touch if but for a moment. And as so eloquently captured in Michelangelo’s stunning Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel, God reaches down from the above, our fingers touch and the world is made new.
“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” – e. e. cummings
Brilliant blue skies that draw our eyes up to You
Rolling waves that draw our eyes down to You right here with us
Family who create the beautiful, imperfect fabric of our life, even when we take them for granted
Friends who show up to celebrate and remain in the hard times
Strangers who cross our path for reasons we do not know, showing us that we are all connected
Dogs who are both family and friend, modeling unconditional love when we forget
Children’s innocence and joy reminding of us where we started and where to return to
First snow sparkling in the sun and the fresh fragrance of spring, displaying the rhythm of the seasons
Challenges that make us grow, let go and dive deeper than we thought possible only to rise again different, with a steely tenderness
Music to dance and sing uninhibited
Laughter that let’s our spirit come out and play
Discernment to make better choices
Quiet to calm the soul
Faith to know that it will be o.k. and we are not alone
Peace within so we can create peace in the world
Grace that carries us and never fails even when we do
Poetry that shows us the strength of words
Kindness that shows us the strength of actions
Love, the only reason we are here
For all of this and abundance abound
For this and so much more…
“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” – Robert Browning
It is in the effort and action of reaching that we are simultaneously pulled and pushed. Motion transforms to momentum. Dreams released to unfold. The effort soon becomes effortless and the action natural.
“But for each of us, isn’t life about determining your own finish line?” – Diana Nyad
Change is our friend not foe. Growth is our calling. And reaching our potential is not only for oneself but is the gift that the world needs from each one of us. Our purpose is to leave this world with no regrets or doubts that we became our best and most sacred self. And the world is better for it.
Reach, and keep reaching.
“What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; What is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” – Matthew 10:27
It’s been a month when words have meant so much and so little all at the same time. Indescribable really. Sometimes, many times, a picture, a song, a scent, a sound capture what words could never harness.
Here are a handful of photos from my Lake Tahoe vacation last week with my best friend Sharon. We don’t see each other as much as we did when we were in college, yet each time we get together, there’s a silent connection that needs no words.
Be present with yourself and others. Words will come or they won’t need to. Look around, listen. Say what needs to be said and let silence enter too. In the silence, we hear what we need to, what we must. A picture, more than a thousand words.
“The truth is, I can never die. For I will be in everything and see you in everything and watch over you. I am your reaction in the water of a mountain lake.” – Klaus Kinski
“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir
“Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.” – Ansel Adams
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” – Aristotle
“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” – Ansel Adams
“Clarity affords focus.” – Thomas Leonard
“Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art. They seem to be the purpose of God for his whole creation.” – Richard Holloway
As crisp as a Fall morning, may you be acutely aware of , , ,
the beauty that surrounds you;
the peace that can only come from God;
the voice deep within that invites you to unfold;
the longing in your soul to be more, not do more;
the steady pull that slows you down while moving you forward;
the call that quietly brings you back to center of what’s true;
the hope and joy that remain steady amidst difficulty;
the brevity of this life that reminds us to let go of the minuscule;
the beating of the hearts of those who are on this journey too:
the laughter of the child that is your own;
the delight that’s hiding in plain sight to be captured daily.
May gratitude lure you back again and again to all that is in this very moment.
Crisp and clear, freely enter the mystery and gift of each day.