Struggling with epic exhaustion and frustration tonight, I stepped away from convincing my very dirty, strong willed 3 year old that a bath was a good idea and wandered to the book shelf in search of direction. Heading toward Conversations with God and hoping for divine intervention, my eyes were pulled to a name a few books over. Mary Oliver’s Why I Wake Early. Hmm…curious.
I had no idea I owned any Mary Oliver poetry and had made a mental note yesterday? today? that I needed some. The book’s thickness felt wrong in my hands and I opened it to find a card tucked inside the front cover. The date was April 2004. It must have been a gift from my wedding shower in Omaha, from one of my lovely mother-in-law’s lovely friends, somehow lost in the shuffle of china and flatware, frying pans and crystal. Six and a half years this book had waited for me to hold it, appreciate it, love it.
Here are the words that changed the tenor of my evening. Thank you, Ms. Oliver, for helping me let go of expectations and find even more room for love. (My apologies – the formatting is off and I’m too tired to figure out how to make it right).
Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does It End?
There are things you can’t reach. But
you can reach out to them, and all day long.
The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of God.
And it can keep you busy as anything else, and happier.
The snake slides away; the fish jumps, like a little lily,
out of the water and back in; the goldfinches sing
from the unreachable top of the tree.
I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.
Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
as though with your arms open.
And thinking: maybe something will come, some
shining coil of wind,
or a few leaves from any old tree–
they are all in this too.
And now I will tell you the truth.
Everything in the world
At least, closer.
Like the nibbling, tinsel-eyed fish: the unlooping snake.
Like goldfinches, little dolls of gold
fluttering around the corner of the sky
of God, the blue air.