Honoring Mary Oliver

 In Honoring Loss

The Reflection Ritual was created during a time in my life when I was experiencing some painful losses in both relationship and career. The world no longer seemed like a safe place, and I was incredibly disoriented.

During this time, the words of Mary Oliver often restored my sense of hope and gave me courage me see the beauty all around me. Her poems gave me hope and lifted my spirit. When an opportunity arose to actually hear Mary Oliver read her work live and discuss her own inspirations, I was all in! I was unsure of what to expect, but I knew I was excited.

I was not disappointed. She discussed her inspirations, which were often more mundane than anticipated. She truly was able to see beauty in the most common things.

I read from Oliver’s work at my grandmother’s funeral. It was another example of her words bringing light into such a painful time of loss. More than most, she could turn a phrase and bring simplicity to the mysterious.

Now that she has passed, I feel void. The news of her death immediately took me back to when I first discovered her work. It was both sad and like being reunited with an old friend. I know the Reflection Ritual Journal would not have been created without sources of truth and inspiration like that of Mary Oliver.

So for all this and more, I say thank you…

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

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.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

—Mary Oliver

 

Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

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