“It was like, we were all okay. And that was nice.”

Hello friends, and happy change-of-seasons! A small story for you, and a hope that you will read and perhaps even write in to share your thoughts!

I ride the bus to work with a lady who has a very odd conversational style. She tells me long, tedious, repetitive stories, the subtexts of which are that she is easily overwhelmed by relatively simple things, like how to pay her Comcast bill (mail it and waste a stamp or drive it to the office?), or figuring out how to use the printer at work. Yet the sub-subtext is that she is really trying to stay positive in the face of these tasks, and to pass this positivity on to others.

suncloudsOften, in the middle of her long stories, she’ll pause and say something totally stunning and totally out of context. For example, we had been talking about some film she was having developed at Walgreens (does anyone actually do this anymore?), and she stopped, looked at me and said, “You are making exactly the right choices you need to be making for yourself at this moment.” I briefly wondered if her eyes were going to roll back in her head or if she would start speaking in tongues, but she just carried on with the film story.

Sometimes her messages aren’t as abrupt, but they still feel a bit like unexpected and useful rays of clarity. A few weeks ago, she was describing, in great detail, where she was going to have her new TV installed (by Comcast), and as we got off the bus to walk to our offices, she said, “Today is going to be a positive day and we will feel good about helping other people!”

Indeed.

A day or two ago, she was relating an experience involving an evening of Scrabble, a person with paranoia, and a disgruntled family member. Then she just stopped and said, “It was like, we were all okay. And…and that was…really nice.”

These odd semi-non-sequiturs are like small, clear bubbles of human truths that rise up from mundane narrations of everyday life, and I appreciate them each time. Yes, I could easily imagine how all of a sudden, in the midst of a game of Scrabble with some only questionably sane people, one might be struck by the feeling that, no matter what, we really are all okay. And not only is that feeling very nice; sometimes, it’s all you need to keep you going.

What small experiences cause you to pause and remember what matters to you? Strange, odd, funny, poignant, moving, simple…whatever they might be…what recent moments have given you perhaps just the briefest glimpse of something that felt real and important. I’d love it so if you cared to share!

In this spirit, today’s poem is by Mary Oliver, from her 2006 book, Thirst. This collection is something of a deviation from previous works, and definitely worth checking out if you’re a Mary Oliver lover. I hope you enjoy it, and, as always, I love hearing from you!

All love,

Leslie

Praying
by Mary Oliver

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

the last end of summer daisy on my walk to the bus stop
the last summer daisy on my morning walk to the bus stop

Could it Really Be This Simple?

I found this Post-It in my son Jacob’s room and had to capture it on film. I asked him what you should do if the moment sucks, and he said, “Then live in some other moment.”

moment
my new motto

A clarion call of a poem today from Mary Oliver about living in other moments, other lives, going down new paths, reaching beyond what you can see. Yes, it really could be this simple.

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives —
tried
to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches
of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?

Do you think this
world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and
notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never
to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the
air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder
we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from
your life!

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
continually?
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?

Quickly, then, get up, put on
your coat, leave your desk!

To put one’s foot into the door of the grass,
which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be
afraid!

To set one’s foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with
amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the
ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that
way, to the flowers of the
present hour,
to the song falling out of the
mockingbird’s pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have
opened

in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and
rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling
it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the
opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little
sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild
roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I
sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge
red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery
bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark
shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing
in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what’s coming
next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a
while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What
more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I
would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn’t ended
yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross
the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean’s edge.

I climb, I
backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.

–from West Wind

Mini Miracles & the One Gift that Really Matters

A few weeks ago, my 6-year old son Gabriel asked me if stories were made or made up.  I’m not exactly sure what he meant, but I decided that he meant were stories “created” or “built.”  Well, this got my little writer’s heart beating faster and I immediately began imagining an in-depth and brilliant reply that 1) touched on the power of words to create things, 2) extrapolated on the biblical “And the Word became flesh,” and then 3) ended up with a pleasing recitation of Pablo Neruda’s stunning poem “The Word.”

But then Gabe said, “Anyway, since I can’t read, I don’t have to open cards before I open presents.  I can just open the presents right away.”  And we moved on.

Continue reading “Mini Miracles & the One Gift that Really Matters”

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