Last week Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver passed away at the age of 83. She wrote about the natural world and called our attention to storms, swans, trees, horses, morning, dusk, love, joy, and human connection.
She continually inspired us to slow down and engage in a deep practice of noticing what is around us. She stirred a certain spirituality and contemplative nature in her readers. Her words have been like a healing balm for many and we have embraced her work at Reasons through reading her poetry in groups, framing her words on our walls as inspiration for recovery, and inviting her respect of nature to inform our philosophies about healing.
In an interview with Krista Tippett on the podcast “On Being” Mary shared that her own childhood was painful and it was poetry and the beauty of the natural world that saved her. Her work has been a gift to all of us and we are grateful for her deep poetic instructions on how to live life.
We would like to share with you a few of our favorites that have a particular medicinal and healing quality on the recovery journey:
In the Gardener she writes, “Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude? Have I endured loneliness with grace?”
In the Summer Day she writes, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
In Sometimes she writes, “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
In Have You Ever Tried To Enter the Long Black Branches she writes, “Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”
In Wild Geese she writes, “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.”