Monday, October 7, 2013

Softest of Mornings and The Lifeline of Awareness and Gratitude

Softest of Mornings by Mary Oliver from Long Life:  Essays and Other Writings (DaCapo Press)
Softest of mornings, hello.
And what will you do today, I wonder,
   to my heart?
And how much honey can the heart stand, I wonder,
   before it must break?

This is trivial, or nothing:  a snail
   climbing a trellis of leaves
     and the blue trumpets of flowers.

No doubt clocks are ticking loudly
   all over the world.
I don't hear them.  The snail's pale horns
   extend and wave this way and that
as her fingers-body shuffles forward, leaving behind
   the silvery path of her slime.

Oh, softest of mornings, how shall I break this?
How shall I move away from the snail, and the flowers?
How shall I go on, with my introspective and ambitious life?

As I was paging through books looking for a poem for this Mary Oliver Monday  I was struck by this one. And not because it speaks to my experience, as is usually the case with what I usually write about; rather because this morning I hear the clock ticking so I haven't been looking at the leaves.

Instead of my normal oozing into the soft morning, today I jumped out of bed, barely glancing out the window and that only to see if it was raining yet, before making coffee and making my bed (in that order) so I could be at my desk and get an early start on work.  Maybe it's the charged air brought about by the approaching storm that has me humming and vibrating and active this morning. Maybe it's the energy behind some work projects that I want to hold onto and perpetuate this week.  Or maybe it's just the knowledge that the pages of my "to do" notebook are filling up faster than things are being crossed out.  Whatever it is, my focus this morning has been on my desk, not on the world outside my window.

And that got me to thinking about awareness and gratitude.

A friend and I were talking about this subject last week.  We'd both been in dark places recently and were sharing how we could to stop ourselves from sliding back down that slippery slope of self-pity and woe that often ends with a canonball into the pit of despair. He said that he has come to realize that lack of gratitude leads to those dark places.  If he holds in one hand something as simple as the blessing of sight and all that comes along with that, it far outweighs any misery he might be tempted to hold onto with the other.  Opening his eyes for a moment of awareness and gratitude each day have become essential for him.

So this morning I may not have spent time looking out my window yet but I can take a moment to be thankful for what I can see here at my desk.  A  soy candle that smells like cedar wood and pine needles reminds me of the trees when I don't have time to get out and walk among them.  The flame of that candle that I light as I sit down to work is an acknowledgment of the presence of the Holy and the Spirit that animates my work and connects it to something bigger.  Icons of Julian of Norwich, Brigid and Melangell  honor the legacy of wise women who have gone before me and the small stack of books on the corner is a nod to the creativity of contemporary women who inspire me.  The containers of Sharpies behind my computer remind me of a young contemporary woman who inspires me, Malala Yousafzai, and makes me ever the more grateful for the freedom and resources I have so often taken for granted in my own pursuit of knowledge.  And the pink and red apples in my grandmother's old milk glass bowl  . . . well the blessings that come along with that sight are far too numerous even to begin to count.

1 comment:

  1. I can totally identify with the blessings that may come from the milk glass bowl!

    So grateful for the rain, it feels like the atmosphere has been holding back, like holding in tears. The pouring rain feels like a huge release!