Staying Amazed

I'm trying to remember when and where I first read my first Mary Oliver poem. I think it was about 16 or 17 years ago in Orion Magazine. Since then I have collected several of her books and written many lines in my heart. When I walked around Lost Lagoon last Sunday morning, I recalled some of these lines, never dreaming she would die a few days later. (I also thought of my dear friend, Katharine, who died in August 2016. She, too, was poet, and she, too, loved Mary Oliver.)

I know I'm among a grateful multitude when I say Mary Oliver has deepened my appreciation of and reverence for the natural world.

Thank you, Mary, for your life and sharing your gifts with us.




I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It is what I was born for—
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world—
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant—
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these—
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Pensive Piper

Obviously I’m anthropomorphizing, but when I look at his sweet face in this moment, I can’t help but wonder what he is contemplating…

“[Dogs] are constant reminders that life reveals the best of itself when we live fully in the moment and extend our unconditional love. And it is very true, that the most tender, uncomplicated, most generous part of our being blossoms, without any effort, when it comes to the love of a dog.”

~ Maira Kalman, Beloved Dog

Reviewing the old year, preparing for the new year...

… my priority for this first week of 2019.

Light in the early morning darkness, January 01, 2019

I read this poem on New Year’s Eve:

Burning the Old Year


Letters swallow themselves in seconds.   
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,   
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,   
lists of vegetables, partial poems.   
Orange swirling flame of days,  
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,   
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.   
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,   
only the things I didn’t do   
crackle after the blazing dies.


Since New Year’s Day, in my journal I have been doing writing exercises to discover which patterns of thinking, feeling, and doing need to be consumed by fire until no traces remain. To do so in a constructive way compels me to examine the past year honestly and dispassionately (“no drama” says Kim) so I can learn, move forward, keep what is “stone”, and fill the now empty spaces with better things.

It’s a process. I’m three days in. I continue to be amazed. Writing is a powerful force that takes me deep within, and then, draws out, clarifies, and elevates my thoughts. It is both good and necessary. It is neither easy nor quick. And so I will — I must — continue the practice.

Closing the Year with Light, Love, and Gratitude

My contribution to Kim Klassen’s invitation to (1) light a candle, (2) say a prayer, send a blessing, and (3) give thanks:

Many of my friends experienced loss or serious illness in 2018. I hold all of them in my heart this evening and pray they will have courage, strength, hope, and healing of hearts and bodies.


A Blessing

“On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.” 

― John O'Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

I am deeply grateful for all the enduring friendships in my life.

Christmas Day Memory

All was calm,
after a 180 degree (and somewhat perilous) turn
the night before.

On Christmas Day,
I was in a familiar, but unexpected place:
my own home.

Thank you, dear friends, Christine & Shanti,
for your generous, thoughtful hospitality,
and giving me warmth, comfort, joy and a delicious meal.

Good creatures on the windowsill, December 25th, 2018.