Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Mary Oliver’

Poetry Friday round-up is at The Miss Rumphius Effect

Mary Oliver has died and the whole world is mourning.  I checked my Facebook page at the end of the day and found that most of my “friends” were posting Mary Oliver’s words.  Every one of them connected me to her, to the natural world, and to these people.  It was like our own wake, of sorts.

I was introduced to the poetry of Mary Oliver by my good friend Nettie who died this past fall.  I imagine they are both writing poems on the clouds.  When I was at a crossroad in my teaching career, Nettie sent me the poem Wild Geese.  I listened to it over and over and have most of the lines memorized.  This poem saved me at a time when I needed to be saved.

 

 

I looked on the poetry shelf in my study and pulled out my collection of Mary Oliver books.  I found that I have two copies of A Thousand Mornings.  If you would like a copy and live in the continental US, leave a comment.  I’ll let you know by email if you are the winner.

Mary Oliver had a way of placing you in the moment with her and in a sense, saying a prayer.  This poem from A Thousand Mornings places me with her, thinking through things, and noticing with pen in air.

I Happened to be Standing

I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can’t really
call being alive.
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep.  Maybe not.

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why.  And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t.  That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

–Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings. The Penguin Press, New York, 2012.

 

I do not presume that my poetry is in any realm of comparison to Mary Oliver’s, but I was moved to write this morning, a way of expressing how her words are written on my heart.

 

A Misty Mary Morning

I’m walking through a misty world
thinking of Mary.  Her words turn
night to day, day to night,
an answer to prayer, a comfort to loss.

She taught me to notice things
like the bird breaking dawn with song.
She would notice the sound
and sing along.  I hold hands

with every poet and poetry lover
across the world. We are united
in our collective breath
wishing with Mary for a resurrection

of amazement.

(c) Margaret Simon, 2019

 

Nikki Grimes wrote this post on Facebook (and gave me permission to repost.)

Mary Oliver, Sister of my heart, how I will miss you! Your absence feels impossible.

IN PASSING

A poet passes
soul rising heavy as ode,
or light as haiku.
Who knows? But You, the Author
whose words are for her, alone.

(c) 2019 Nikki Grimes

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

 

Holy Week always brings up for me a mixture of feelings.  I feel a call to silent contemplation.  Years ago I offered a Good Friday meditation.  It originally came out of a prayer vigil from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday.  I had signed up for the 6 AM time slot and was moved by the rising of the sun as I sat alone in the quiet church.  We don’t have a vigil anymore, but the idea of sitting in quiet meditation early in the morning of Good Friday is still something I want to experience and share.

With four of us in the sanctuary, I read aloud Mary Oliver’s poem “I Happened to be Standing.”  Mary Oliver is a favorite poet of mine.  I love how simple and profound her poems are.  I searched for this one.  I remembered how it looked on the page, but I didn’t remember the title or which book it was published in.  I located five of her books around my home, none of them placed together.  Finally, A Thousand Mornings sang to me from the living room shelf, and there it was in all its humble glory.

I Happened to Be Standing

I don't know where prayers go,
     or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
     half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
     crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
     growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
     along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
     of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can't really
     call being alive
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
     or does it matter?
(Read and listen to the complete poem here.)

 

As I sat, I recalled Psalm 22 from the Maundy Thursday stripping of the altar. I wanted to respond to this psalm with my own psalm. I wrote:

Deus, Deus meus

My God, my God, why have you forgiven me?
The toll of the cardinal song
echoes You are my child.

Long ago, I carried a child in my own womb
felt her heart beat with mine,
felt the soft body roll inside.

Is this how you love me, God?

I held the hand of his father
as he passed into your light.
I let go of his quiet strength.

Is this how you love me, God?

When I think on these things,
I can know kindness.
I can hear stillness in the noise.
I can feel love in the bird’s song.

When you are near me, God,
My soul lives for you.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018

Happy, Happy Easter! May you find joy in the quiet and love in the sounds of the birds!

Read Full Post »

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

On Thursday, NCTE hosted a Twitter frenzy on #WhyIWrite to celebrate National Day on Writing. I gave myself an assignment spurred on by the many posts I read about Why I Write. I collected quotes and added them to images. I posted a few here. I also tweeted them out throughout the day on Thursday.

I asked my students to write on this topic and tweeted out their responses using Word Swag, an iPhone app.

Jacob's #WhyIWrite quote on Word Swag

Jacob’s #WhyIWrite quote on Word Swag

Any time you use a new application, you have to commit yourself to patience, practice, and persistence. Even my mother is learning about the three Ps as she switches my dad to Mac from PC.

Kids are so much more adept at this than we are as adults. They know right off that anything new will take patience. Two of my 6th grade boys have decided to do a project that uses animation. I was amazed at the concentrated time they spent to get a stick figure to move his arm up and down.

Digital literacies motivate us to put in the practice it takes to learn something new. We all know this, so we seem to have more patience when it comes to learning a new app. Don’t you hate it when your phone updates and something you have become accustomed to changes? I still swipe when I want to access my iPhone, but some genius thought it would be easier to hit the Home button. Persistence. I keep missing it, and by the time it becomes a habit, something else will change.

Face it, we are stuck with a constantly evolving universe of technology. But thanks to Word Swag, my iPhone, and a beautiful sunrise on the bayou today, I can create this quote from Mary Oliver.

mary-oliver-quote-word-swag

Link your digital literacy posts below. Click to read more posts.

Read Full Post »

Poetry Friday is with sweet Irene from Birmingham.

Poetry Friday is with sweet Irene from Birmingham.

moonrise

I was letting this Poetry Friday go, but this morning (Saturday) I received the Full Moon Alert from my friend Jim.  Jim has missed two FMAs.  When I saw him out dancing at La Poussiere a few weekends ago, I felt I conjured him out of the dust. (La Poussiere means “the dust” in Cajun French.) Turns out, Jim and his wife Paula are fine, just busy.  That’s my excuse, too.  Well, isn’t it everyone’s?

The thing I love about Jim, in addition to his attention to nature and moons, is his love of poetry.  I am reposting the two poems he sent.  The first is from David Lee.  I have taken in the hummingbird feeder, but I still have such a fond image of them at the feeder this summer.

 

Hummingbird at the feeder in my backyard. Taken August 30th. Photo by Margaret Simon

Hummingbird at the feeder in my backyard. Taken August 30th. Photo by Margaret Simon

Ode Beneath a Hummingbird Feeder

1

Greenflash of lightning
and memory of a red scar
etched on the golden throat
of a still afternoon.

2

Whirr of tiny wings
like a small thunder
across the redwood porch.

3

Oh, arrogant little warrior,
if I had a naked weapon
I could brandish like yours,
I, too, would suffer
no foolish rival suitors
sipping at my ruby fount.

–David Lee 

The second poem Jim sent was by Mary Oliver.  The sentiment she expresses of hurricanes and the resurrection after is familiar to me.  I send this out to my Poetry Friday friends who recently endured Hurricane Matthew.

HURRICANE

It didn’t behave
like anything you had
ever imagined. The wind
tore at the trees, the rain
fell for days slant and hard.
The back of the hand
to everything. I watched
the trees bow and their leaves fall
and crawl back into the Earth.
As though, that was that.
This was one hurricane
I lived through, the other one
was of a different sort, and
lasted longer. Then
I felt my own leaves giving up and
falling. The back of the hand to
Everything. But listen now to what happened
to the actual trees;
toward the end of that summer they
pushed new leaves from their stubbed limbs.
It was the wrong season, yes,
But they couldn’t stop. They
Looked like telephone poles and didn’t
care. And after the leaves came
blossoms. For some things
There are no wrong seasons.
Which is what I dream of for me.

–Mary Oliver 

 

Read Full Post »

Poetry Friday round-up is with Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

Poetry Friday round-up is with Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

I am dedicating this Poetry Friday post to my mother-in-law, Anne Simon, who took me on an amazing adventure to Tanzania, Africa to celebrate her 85th birthday.

I have been blogging about this trip since I’ve returned.  You can read previous posts: Safe Water for Eastern Africa, Tarangire National Park, Maasai village, and Lions on the Serengeti.

The only way to thank Anne “Minga” for this fabulous opportunity was to thoroughly enjoy it.  I immersed myself in Presence, my one little word, taking in the experience with my whole mind, body, and spirit.

On the day of Minga’s birthday, we set out at sunrise to tour areas on the Serengeti with rocky outcrops called kopjes.  Kopjes are places where lions linger and hide their young.  We stopped to have breakfast on one of these kopjes.  Before any of us got out of the vehicles, though, our guides scouted and clapped away any animal life.

Kopjes (pronounced ko-pee-us) dotted the Serengeti landscape.

Kopjes (pronounced ko-pee-us) dotted the Serengeti landscape.

 

Singing "Happy Birthday" to Anne on the kopjes breakfast.

Singing “Happy Birthday” to Anne on the kopjes breakfast.

I created a video to capture the birthday celebration complete with a cake and the camp workers singing a favorite celebration song, Hakuna Matata (not the Disney version).

 

Since today is Poetry Friday, I found an appropriate poem to share.  “The Journey” by Mary Oliver describes the individual that my mother-in-law is, strong and independent.  I am very grateful that she is willing to share her journey with me.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

–Mary Oliver

This poem, along with many other poems from women, can be found in The Woman in this Poem, selected and introduced by Georgia Heard.

 

Read Full Post »

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Starlings in Winter by Mary Oliver; Chunky and noisy, but with stars in their black feathers, they spring from the telephone wire and instantly they

Source: Starlings in Winter, poem – Mary Oliver poems | Best Poems

I want to be light and frolicsome.I want to be improbable and beautiful and afraid of nothing,as though I had wings. copy

We received some rough news this week. A diagnosis. A good friend. A young mother.

How do we handle this cancer nightsoil in the midst of Christmas carols and wrapping and baking. Where is the joy? I am struggling to find it.

I found it on Facebook, of all places, where her neighbor set up a Caring Bridges site. There’s a picture of over 50 people gathered in prayer. I texted, “I am overwhelmed by what you are doing.”

“It’s hard to accept the love that comes with such a crappy thing.”

So I will find joy in the love. Love of my family, my friends far and near, and of God’s word made flesh.

Watch the light of the full moon tonight, this Christmas Eve, hold your loved ones tight. Because this moment is all we have. Merry Christmas!

candle light

Read Full Post »

Truth

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts.  Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts. Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Holly Meuller invites fellow bloggers to reflect on our spiritual journey each week. The theme this week is TRUTH.

I am not a true believer. I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. I do not believe that God has total control. I believe that God is real and true. I believe that we are given free will and with that gift, we can make the choice to nurture the God within.

Morning moon

Morning moon

Morning moon glow

Morning moon glow

I started the day thinking about truth. Looking into the sky before dawn, the full harvest moon looked down on me. My camera in my phone could not tell the truth. These photos do not show what I saw. Are these photos a lie? My husband and I discussed this dilemma. He said that now that he has had cataract surgery and has lens implants, everything he sees is a lie. Actually, everything we all see is only true to us, clouded by our vision or our perception.

The Bible is full of metaphor. Metaphor points to truth, but the message is not always visible.

The kingdom of God is…
a mustard seed,
a pearl,
a lost coin.

The Good Shepherd watches over his sheep,
knows them by name,
and goes out to look for the lost one.

One of my favorite poets is Mary Oliver. She writes with precise simplicity that speaks volumes. In A Thousand Mornings, she brings us into her daily morning meditations. Her poem “On Traveling to Beautiful Places” speaks of the search for God and for truth.

Every day I’m still looking for God
and I’m still finding him everywhere,
in the dust, in the flowerbeds.
Certainly in the oceans,
in the islands that lay in the distance
continents of ice, countries of sand
each with its own set of creatures
and God, by whatever name.
How perfect to be aboard a ship with
maybe a hundred years still in my pocket.
But it’s late, for all of us,
and in truth the only ship there is
is the ship we are all on
burning the world as we go.

-Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings, New York: Penguin Press, 2012. 67.

As I contemplate truth, I realize that there is no real truth. We are on a journey of discovery, doing the best we can with what we have. Truth is blurry, hard to see, like the moon in a photograph. Yet, it is there waiting to be discovered.

(After I finished writing this post, serendipity sent me the message that it was Mary Oliver’s birthday.)

Read Full Post »

Join the Poetry Friday Round up at I think in Poems hosted by Betsy.

Join the Poetry Friday Round up at I think in Poems hosted by Betsy.

My handmade book of poems

My handmade book of poems

One thing I enjoy about a long break is the time to be creative. I learned how to make a book recently and tried it out on Christmas Day using some paper my daughter gave me as a gift, covering mat-board, sewing pages together, and binding with colorful duct tape. Inside, I have glued copies of the poems I have written this winter break.

I challenged myself to write 10 poems over 2 weeks. I’m up to seven and have 3 more days. This challenge makes me look at life as a poet, finding poems everywhere. I wish I could live like this everyday, but most days the stresses of life get in the way.

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I spent some time with my family in Mississippi. My sister took some pictures of the lake. I borrowed this one of two white egrets wading and wrote a poem to the image. I cannot seem to write a poem about nature without mentioning the Great Creator. I also grabbed some inspiration from this site, The Heron and Egret Society, that includes Mary Oliver poems about egrets. I borrowed the word scumbled and began, as Mary Oliver did, with the phrase, “Where the”

Photo by Beth Saxena

Photo by Beth Saxena

Egrets

Where the shoreline turns
hiding among the scumbled weeds,
two white egrets
take stealthy steps on stick-like legs.

The wind passes them by.
The canopy of orange maple leaves
ignore this lightning flash of beauty.

I observe them from a safe distance,
not sure if a prayer is waiting,
I release a breath: “Ah, me!”

I can pay attention, say grace,
and praise you,
twin brush strokes of God.

–Margaret Simon

Read Full Post »

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
–Mary Oliver
View the entire poem here.

My mother sent me a book. This book came from Amazon during Easter break, so I sat in the cool grass enjoying a spring day, and read the Introduction. I felt an immediate connection to Father Ed Bacon and thought, “I know him from somewhere.” I went to my closet to find a journal from the summer of 1993 when I attended a workshop at Camp Kanuga in North Carolina. A coinciding workshop on Art and Spirituality was being led by a team from St. Andrews Cathedral in Jackson, MS. One evening at dinner (family style) Ed Bacon, the leader of the Art and Spirituality workshop, invited us to join one of the sessions. I remember thinking then (and writing about it in my journal) how generous this man was to let us join their group and enjoy their fellowship as well as experience art and spirituality. And now, 20 years later, I was reading his book “8 Habits of Love.”

The first habit is The Habit of Generosity. Fr. Ed writes, “The human spirit, just like the seas, needs both inflow and outflow in order to foster life and create energy.” We need generosity as much as we need the air we breathe. The more we give, the greater our life becomes with deeper meaning and growth of our spirit.

When I was a senior in high school, my house flooded 5 feet. The exact measurement sticks in my head because that was the height of the top of my closet, so I knew whatever I stored in that space was saved. Everything else was full of mud and soaking wet. This experience was profound for my family as tragedies often are. It was the opening of our hearts to the generosity of others. And there was so much overflowing of generosity, greater than the 5 feet of flood waters. Twenty-one people from our church community showed up to clean out the house. We received donations as well as emotional support from so many. Generosity of spirit overcame the loss of material things.

And today, when we hear about tragedies such as the tornadoes in Oklahoma, we hear, too, the stories of generosity and how that grows and holds up the victims. Generosity knows no limits. It is not bounded by anything because the human heart holds the Beloved.

Sometimes we hit upon road blocks, things that steer us away from a generous spirit. We get busy with the day to day work. And sometimes fear seeps in. We cannot function outside of ourselves when we give in to fear. We must open ourselves up by giving. When we connect with others in a generous way, the walls are broken down. We find love.

Every week, I wake up early on Tuesday morning and go to serve at Solomon House, our church’s outreach mission. We hand out bags of groceries to the needy. But I hate to even use that word…needy, because I may be feeding them physically, but they feed me emotionally. They show me who the Beloved is, in their gentle touch, their laughter, their kindness, their humbleness. Many of these faces are faces of friends.

“The Habit of Generosity is often as much about giving emotional or spiritual support as it is about giving money. At its core, it is about communicating kinship with others.” –Ed Bacon

No matter what the situation, who we come into contact with, if we approach them with loving generosity, we can find a way to connect. And this is what love is all about-connecting one heart to another.

I’ve decided that this summer my Tuesday Slices will be in response to “8 Habits of Love.” Next week the habit is one of stillness.

Please share in the comments how the Habit of Generosity has worked in your life.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »