Nature and Poetry Save Me…Daily

WHEN I AM AMONG TREES by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,”
they say, “and you, too, have come
into the world to do this, to go easy,
to be filled with light, and to shine.”

Every day I read poetry, at least a dose in the morning, and a dose at night. If it is a particularly good day it is filled with poetry from morning to night. If it is a particularly difficult day, it is filled with poetry from morning to night. You get the idea.

Poetry saves me, and daily. I have one bookcase completely filled with poetry books. Most days I “randomly” pull a book off the shelf and open to a “random” page, and receive a perfect message, a divine inspiration for the day. God speaks to me through poetry. My highest wisdom speaks to me in lyrical language. Some days I fall deeply in love with one of my favorite poets, and read only their poetry for the entire week. At some point, my other favorites beckon to me and I leave Mary for May (Sarton), Billy (Collins) or David (Whyte). Or maybe it is the call of Naomi (Shihab-Nye), Pablo (Neruda) or William (Stafford) that lure me under their spell. And always for Rumi and Hafiz I will drop everything and run into their waiting words.

I like to say that my life is a poem. The way I walk through the world, the way I listen, the way I see others, the way I work, deep poetic listening and shining into the world. It is what I inspire to.

Poetry is even more savory if it can be consumed in Nature. Nature also saves me, and daily. Walking in the trees is the most satisfying balm for my soul. The light and wind under the canopy of cedars, fir, alders and maple is beyond compare for soul renewal. Bring a book of poetry or two into the magic of the forest and you have the recipe for the most delicious day. Even an hour of this bliss is exquisitely renewing. To read When I Am Among the Trees, among the trees, feeds my soul and makes my heart happy. To wander through the forest after reading Lost by David Wagoner is a sure invitation to be found. To gaze up at the sky precisely at the moment you read this line from Rumi:
“Become the sky. Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape”….is freeing. Nature in all its beauty, from mountains to sea is the way God soothes my soul, and prepares me for the work I do. And for living my poetic life in service of others.

Why am I talking about this right now, at this time? Because we are living in times where we seem to need saving on a regular basis. Saving ourselves from getting consumed by the news, drawn into fear and grief, blasted by the challenges and the difficult work ahead. We need what will keep our hearts open, and feed our soul with the beauty that sustains our ability to be kind and to love in the midst of it all. For me, that is Poetry and Nature.

Won’t you grab a book of your favorites, or perhaps a poet that is new to you, and meet me in the trees or on the seashore?

 

 

 

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LOVE: The Movement

On this day when I am feeling super inspired, I feel it is time to share this dream that I had a few weeks ago. In the dream I was in an urban neighborhood in the middle of the night. In the darkness I looked up and saw a flashing neon sign above a storefront which could have been a bar, but just as easily could have been a cafe or a bakery. The sign said LOVE:The Movement. “Love:” was flashing lime green and “the movement” was flashing bright orange. I stood beneath the sign watching it for a long time.  I looked beyond the sign into the sky and could see an incredible amount of stars, which seemed odd, especially because I was in an urban area with neon signs.

That is the dream. Not a long one, but definitely a significant one. I have been thinking of Love a lot lately. We have known since forever that “All we need is Love” and that “They’ll know we are Christians (insert your religion or just nature) by our Love” Sometimes I think that I am still a free spirited, big hearted 5 year old who thinks that life is that simple, that if we just Love each other, we will be okay. I also knew by the time I was 5 and in school that some people are mean. In kindergarten I experienced my first bully, I still remember his name but I won’t mention it, maybe he has changed. 🙂 I remember the day that the unnamed boy took my hand in circle and squeezed it so tightly that I almost cried. Later that day he called me fat and pushed me. I remember my bubble of Love bursting in that moment and tears coming. When my Mom picked me up from school, she saw my tears and took me right home to my Grandmother who turned on my hero Mr. Rogers and gave me chocolate chip cookies. I learned that day that people can be mean and that grandmothers and food can be comforting. It also started a long, life saving relationship with my hero Mr. Rogers.

Over the years I have learned more about how complicated it is to promote a life of Love. I learned early on that hurt people hurt people, it is one big reason that I chose social work as a career. Social work is definitely a career that promotes Love as a movement.

So why did this neon sign show up in my dream at this time? Maybe it has something to do with the election, and all the feelings that have been present in me and the world since. Maybe it has to do with the way my tender heart reacts to acts of hatred and violence, I still feel like the 5 year old girl who looks with disbelief and tears welling up in her eyes. Maybe because I still believe in the words of my other hero, Martin Luther King Jr.

Nonviolence is the answer
to the crucial political and moral questions of our time:
the need for man to overcome oppression and violence
without resorting to oppression and violence.
Man must evolve for all human conflict
a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation.
The foundation of such a method is love.”

 As we move into the months ahead in a world where the shadow has been exposed like never before and the poison has risen to the service, how will we respond? Will we add more poison to the world? We will come together and speak our truths? Will we stand with and for each other? Will we Love? I like to think that I might retain some of the wisdom of my 5 year old self, and speak up for Kindness, and keep bringing more Love into the world.

 Love: The Movement

It is the path before us. I am ready, are you?

My Work Is Loving The World

Welcome to my exciting new adventure, Soul Wisdom Sparks! Here you will find sparks of inspiration…poetry, quotes, musings of a nature spirit, heart opening questions, and other whisperings and loud shouts from this soul that was born to Love and Inspire the world.

I hope you will follow the conversation and find it useful, especially in these turbulent and challenging times. My goal here is bring more Love into the world. To help you know who you are in a soul filled and powerful way, and then live your life to the fullest.

If any of my sparks light the fire of your spirit and send your soul gifts flying out into the world, then I will be living my soul gift…which is loving the world. Today I came across a great quote by Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee, “On the pavement a group of schoolchildren were walking past the driveway with their teacher. I noticed these young children crossing, and suddenly I saw them in a way I have never seen human beings before or since. They were so full of light I could hardly look, and on each child’s chest, where the heart is, a huge radiance like the sun was shining.” This quote described so beautifully what I see when I am loving the world and looking at the essence of each of you.

In my work as a counselor and spiritual teacher  I have always felt that if I could look at the heart and see the radiant light of your being, then perhaps I could guide you along the path to remember who you are and see it too. So this blog is kind of like that. The sparks of wisdom and inspiration will hopefully help you remember your own light, and shine ever more brightly in the world. We need it now, we really do.

I see you, you are truly the light of the world.

The Messenger

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird — equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth
and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam, telling them all,
over and over, how it is that we live forever.

Mary Oliver