The World is Flux

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The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow…

Doctor, if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.
~Lisel Mueller from “Monet Refuses the Operation”

It is all about the light
when it fluxes and flexes around us,
transforming us, making us something more
than how we started.

If I could only see this in each person,
how light and water transfigures the rankest weed
and the deepest shadows,
if only my heart could expand
as does the heart of God
when He claims us as His own…
then I could truly see,
how heaven pulls earth into its arms,
blue vapor without end.

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Dare to be Happy

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Every morning
the world is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped ashes of the night
turn into leaves again…

…each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.
~Mary Oliver from “Morning Poem”

 

We are called to dare to pray,
reflecting back
what comes down to us
from above,
whether brilliance, or clouds,
or the darkest night,
our prayers are dotted with
these unfolding moments
of joy.

 

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Willing to Be Dazzled

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Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them—

But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided—
and that one wears an orange blight—
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away—
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—
that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and falling. And I do.
~Mary Oliver from “The Ponds”

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…the wands
        of the lilies
            quicken, they rise

like pale poles
    with their wrapped beaks of lace;
        one day
            they tear the surface,

the next they break open
    over the dark water.
        And there you are
            on the shore,

fitful and thoughtful, trying
    to attach them to an idea —
        some news of your own life.
            But the lilies

are slippery and wild—they are
    devoid of meaning, they are
        simply doing,
            from the deepest

spurs of their being,
    what they are impelled to do
        every summer.
            And so, dear sorrow, are you.
~Mary Oliver from “The Lilies Break Forth over the Dark Water”

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If you have forgotten water lilies floating
On a dark lake among mountains in the afternoon shade,
If you have forgotten their wet, sleepy fragrance,
Then you can return and not be afraid.

But if you remember, then turn away forever
To the plains and the prairies where pools are far apart,
There you will not come at dusk on closing water lilies,
And the shadow of mountains will not fall on your heart.
~Sara Teasdale

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Letting It Go

photo by Josh Scholten

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

photo by Josh Scholten

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
~Mary Oliver, “In Blackwater Woods”

photo by Josh Scholten