Some of you know that I am a major fan of the poet Mary Oliver, but this poem, Messenger, is new to me. Thank you to Mary Muir who sent it. The timing is especially good mostly for positive reasons. We have been at our little place in Maine the past few days, packing up to head home shortly. We were here this time with two couples who are old and dear friends; this was the first time we had tried the cottage with six adults, and it worked. Whew. I think the caveats are that it can work IF the weather cooperates, so people can also sit outside, and IF two people are willing to sleep in bunk beds. Both things happened, and it has been delightful.
The positive reaction to this beautiful poem is related to the great beauty of this spot. As I write now, facing the tidal pond, the tide is out, far out. I am looking at long expanses of mud flats before the shimmer of salt water. Those flats are filled with hungry birds, and their calls echo through the otherwise total silence. There has been thick fog which is beginning to lift, but the sky is still close to the high grass and the trees, and the muted grays and greens are very beautiful. The resident blue heron just appeared, taking up his/her position on the shore, almost always in the same spot. Perhaps there is a nest nearby?
The less positive part of the reaction has to do with a patient experience I had a few days ago. Without going into any details, suffice it to say that I was truly astonished by the behaviors and unfolding of events. Even after more than thirty years, there is always a time and a place for surprises.
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 half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on "what matters',
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and
learning to be
Mary Oliver, Messenger