Astonishment | Mary Oliver

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I referred in my last post to a type of inner work that, for me, trumps the prospect of a permanently nine-to-five existence. I think Mary Oliver knows what I mean (but then, there’s little that she fails to grasp).

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

Out Into the World

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Please click to watch this awareness-raising video.

 

 

Sometimes, I think I obey all the wrong rules.

When I packed for my excursion downtown yesterday to hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I double-checked the directives on the Emory University website, and did not bring any bags or recording devices. Turns out I could have brought a camera. Sitting 75 feet from the stage, I was perfectly situated to photograph the Dance of the Snow Lion, traditional throat-singers, and folk musicians who performed. And if I’d been like so many of the people around me, I would have just broken out the video camera, too. Then I really could have caught the sights and sounds of the event, which definitely reminded me that I was in Atlanta (as opposed to say, San Francisco).

“Have you been to the merch tent? They have hand sanitizer.”

“What is this, like, a Woodstock sort of thing?”

“Oh my god, y’all, he’s so cuuute!!”

Then there was the comment of my lawn neighbor, who pish-poshed six nearby protesters who who briefly chanted “Free Tibet!” Astonishingly, these people garnered absolutely no support—other than my own, of course—from a crowd of thousands.

“That’s inappropriate,” the woman behind me commented. “This is a religious event, not a political one.”

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