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Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Messenger



 Messenger
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird-
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand. Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work. Which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here
Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a  heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever. ~ Mary Oliver

I was on my Facebook page the other day, February 16th actually; and I saw a post asking for people to send their well wishes to Mary Oliver because, as the statement read,…had to cancel all her performances due to a serious illness. I stopped cold – what!? Mary Oliver? I quickly went to her FB page to see more then 700 “well-wishers” sending their love. Fortunately within 24 hours it was reported that perhaps “serious” was too strong a word and they were expecting Mary to have a full recovery from her illness.

But it sure stopped me in my tracks. Mary Oliver. She has saved my life more than once during turbulent, difficult, challenging times; me and just about every other person who loves her and her gorgeous use of language. And it really made me feel deeply about the power of a poem, the power of words, the gift of language and communication. And it made me think a lot about so many of the teachings that I’ve been given over the years that basically, point to not taking things people say or do personally. And yes, I certainly work towards this in my daily life and particularly with those who, knowingly or not, push the exact “buttons” which allow me to “take it personally”, and then figure out how to best work with all that “taking it personally”.

And I think of Mary Oliver’s poems and how they reached in so far and deep and pulled me through those emotional waters. Words…whether I like it or not, words are strong, personal, evocative, and can quite often make a lasting, emotional mark; from pain to anger to self-worth, self-love and yes, joy, happiness and of course, love. So words do cut deeply and in many different emotional directions and yes, damn it! Words are personal…I take them personally.

This is very pronounced for me in my work situation; really for the past nine months. Over and over I hear, “Don’t you remember, I already told you, you need to remember, you need to pay more attention, you need to concentrate.” You get the picture. I’ve got nine months worth of processing to share about this but at the end of the day it really does come down to what I take personally, what I feel is really true for me, and then…how do I want to spend my days…do I believe any of it…am I going to let the words tear my heart and make me feel less than?

I am a work in progress and believe I deserve better, kinder, more loving and truer words…words that inspire and uplift and bring light and joy…I will give these gifts of words to myself because this is where it truly begins and ends.

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