Arikok Park, Aruba.

“Grace and gratitude. Forward from here.”

The poet Mary Oliver died last week. I knew of her, but didn’t know her well.

I have given her books as gifts. I have some of her words framed and hanging on the wall of my studio. I knew she lived much of her life on Cape Cod, where I grew up. I knew she was a keen observer of the natural world, and this was reflected in much of her poetry. I learned of Oliver’s death when a friend sent me this picture last week.  She said “thinking of you and channeling Mary Oliver, RIP”.

I don’t read poetry yet. I think maybe because I can be impatient. Poetry requires me to slow down and sit with the words. And sitting, I’ve learned, is challenging for me.

I am fortunate to know a wise healer, acupuncture among her many talents, and she frequently cites poetry while treating me. Her wisdom is deep and broad and like a poet, she understands the power of words.  I’ve seen her several times recently for help with painful back spasms.

I was searching for the cause of my pain as a mechanic would search for why the car won’t start. She reminded me that while that may be pertinent, it’s not the whole story.

Instead, she asked, what was I learning from the coming and going of this pain? I’ve been pondering that. And I see correlations. Recurring themes, even.

“Attention without feeling is just a report.”  – Mary Oliver

When I am living some aspect of my life in an unsustainable way, or when I am neglecting something important, this is the report my body files. That’s exactly what pain is for – a demand from your body that you pay attention. When it matters, my body will no longer simply go through the motions.  And as Mary Oliver might inquire, when doesn’t it matter…”in this one wild and precious life?”

What have I learned? Attention. Patience. Sit. Feel more, think less. And of course, trust the process.

Rest in peace, Mary Oliver. Thank you for the words and photo, SE.  And thank you for the healing presence, DC.

Grace and gratitude. Forward from here.