Let’s take a walk. You can show me some of your memories and I’ll show you some of mine.
~ Adam Berlin, Number of Missing
Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?
Well, there is time left —
fields everywhere invite you into them.
And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?
~ Mary Oliver, excerpted from Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?, West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems
I wake up, open my eyes, and a world appears. It is a familiar world – more so than usual in these days of semi-lockdown – but even more familiar is the experience of ‘self’ – of being me – that glides into consciousness at more-or-less the same time. This experience of selfhood is so mundane that its appearance goes by entirely unnoticed, unless actively paid attention to. We take our selves for granted, but we shouldn’t.
~ Anil Seth, Catching Sight of Yourself
Beauty kick-starts our attention. The real sublime. To behold it is almost scary because we suddenly have a longing to stand for something. Beauty not as generic but specific, troubling in what it may call forth in us.
~ Martin Shaw, How to Recapture Your Imagination
To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat
of the sweet grass?
Will the owl bite off its own wings?
Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air or
forget to sing?
Will the rivers run upstream?
Behold, I say—behold
the reliability and the finery and the teachings
of this gritty earth gift.
Eat bread and understand comfort.
Drink water, and understand delight.
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets
are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds
who are drinking the sweetness, who are
For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.
And someone’s face, whom you love, will be as a star
both intimate and ultimate,
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.
And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two
beautiful bodies of your lungs.
The witchery of living
is my whole conversation
with you, my darlings.
All I can tell you is what I know.
Look, and look again.
This world is not just a little thrill for the eyes.
It’s more than bones.
It’s more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.
It’s more than the beating of the single heart.
It’s giving until the giving feels like receiving.
You have a life—just imagine that!
You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe
~ Mary Oliver (you can read the rest of this poem here).
The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.
~ Blaise Pascal
Somehow we weathered and witnessed
A nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
There is always light
if only we’re brave enough to see it
if only we’re brave enough to be it.
— Amanda Gorman
(In case you missed it, you can watch the full reading of this wonderful poem here.)
To go into the dark with a light
is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark,
go without sight.
that the dark too
blooms and sings
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
~ Wendell Berry
Once I had imagined that my journey would be like the Pilgrim’s Progress, where each adventure brings the hero closer to the heavenly city, but the Christian God with whom I had been intoxicated in my teenage years did not survive the theological studies I undertook to serve him (and it was a him). When I turned outward, angry and heartsick, to political affairs, I found that I was a failure as an atheist, too, for I could not cure myself of praying to a God I no longer believed in.
~ Joanna Macy, from the preface to Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
I am the one whose praise echoes on high.
I adorn all the earth.
I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.
I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.
I am led by the spirit to feed the purest streams.
I am the rain coming from the dew
that causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life.
I am the yearning for good.
~ Hildegard Von Bingen