Thursday, May 26, 2011

A lifetime isn't long enough...

Life can be hard and soft at the same time. It feels that way today. Storms are roaring through the Midwest leaving so much destruction in their paths. Then the sun comes out and all is bright and beautiful. Except, of course, the stark reality of loss. Being human seems to be such a gift as well as a struggle. And it brings the ego to its knees ~ there are no tidy little answers. No way to make everything ok. At some point we have stand and say, "I surrender to whatever this is that I am a part of."

My heart is heavy from holding the sorrow, mine and all who knew and loved my husband's dear friend. He passed away on Monday doing what he loved, playing golf. Now we walk through all of steps that follow. We try to console each other. We remember the shared experiences that nurtured our friendships. We grieve and we know how very much this wonderful man will be missed.

As Mary Oliver says, " A lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of this world and the responsibilities of you life." I believe those responsibilities include allowing all of our feelings to be expressed, the hard and the soft. We are all so deeply intertwined and the wisdom that we are one sustains me in ways I never imagined. 

"Let grief be your sister, she will whether or no..."

The poem is not the world.
It isn't even the first page of the world.
But the poem wants to flower, like a flower.
It knows that much.
It wants to open itself,
like the door of a little temple,
so that you might step inside and be cooled and refreshed,
and less yourself than part of everything.
When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice
something you have never noticed before,

like the tambourine sound of the snow-cricket
whose pale green body is no longer than your thumb.

Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,
shaking the water-sparks from its wings.

Let grief be your sister, she will whether or no.
Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also,
    like the diligent leaves.

A lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life.

Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.

In the glare of your mind, be modest.
And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling.

Live with the beetle, and the wind.
This is the dark bread of the poem.
This is the dark and nourishing bread of the poem.
  ~ Mary Oliver ~
A Leaf and a Cloud  

Monday, May 9, 2011

Make of Yourself a Light!

The Buddha’s Last Instruction

“Make of yourself a light,”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal – a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire –
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.
~ Mary Oliver ~

One of my very favorite Mary Oliver poems is "The Buddha's Last Instruction." It resoundingly says "make of yourself a light." Be who you are. Live each day, each moment as a light, a light unto yourself and for others.

Oliver reminds us that life has its difficulties no matter who you are. The Buddha had a very hard life, you know. He had murderers among his monks; people who were jealous and selfish. He faced physical challenges and a harsh environment. Yet his longing to alleviate suffering for all beings was so strong that he couldn't rest until he reached enlightenment.

All he is asking each of us is to be a light to ourselves and others.