Archives for posts with tag: Mary Oliver

 

So far, being seventy is a blast! Meals and tea times with friends, phone calls and emails are each treasures. I’ve been able to spread out the meals all month,  so I can get naps and a little bit of project work done.  Thanks to the seventy-plus folks who sent poems, I facilitated a grand poetry reading at a local nursing home. It was the second annual one there and we’d opened it to the public, so we had twice the attendance of last year. In addition to poems, “Happy Birthday” was sung in both Polish and English to the five of us who had April birthdays. There were wind up dancing unicorns and dogs showed around by the activity director. It was a little wilder than most poetry readings, but only one person requested to go back to her room and nobody fell asleep.

The other notable event was a fantastic experience going to confession.  Don’t worry, I haven’t gone off the deep end. I told the priest I was turning seventy tomorrow and confessed that I was  quick to judge and take offense, a sin that I allowed I’d fought for my whole life and I figured I would for the next thirty years. He asked how I felt about turning seventy. I said I felt fabulous about it. When I was born I was a preemie and not expected to live, so I was happy and grateful to get to be seventy. He said my penance was thanking God for getting me to seventy and then asked if that was “enough”. I said it seemed a little light, so he said I could say a couple Lord’s prayers.  We laughed, talked about dogs and I left feeling ready to go for the next adventure.

A C.S. Lewis quote I was given says: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” After I get more celebrating done, I’ll sit back and figure what’s next. I’ll reread the poems I was sent with their themes of enjoying the moment, humor, animals, hanging in there and having courage. Only one poem, “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver was sent to me twice.

My advice to you from this lofty perch of being seventy for a month:

As Bob Marley sang (one of the songs I was sent):
“Get up, stand up. Don’t give up the fight.”
And as it says in “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver,
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.”

 

 

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Within twenty-four hours, two acquaintances and my favorite poet, Mary Oliver died.

One acquaintance showed many scars from her life. She was kindly spoken of as a “handful” as the speaker’s eyes rolled. In my better interactions with her I responded to the pain in her comments without letting the barb get through my skin.  She reminds me to watch my mouth (at least a little) when someone steps on me.

The other acquaintance was always gracious even as her needs for help increased. What an example! She also experienced the grit of life, but somehow used it to make her more sensitive to others.

Mary Oliver’s beautiful nature poems help me see the sublime in the ordinary.  This poem is a good example:

The Gift
By Mary Oliver

Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.

So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful. That the gift has been given.

I’m grateful for the gifts I received from each of these women.