Summer is here…


Well it is hot and sunny here in Scotland, not something we experience that often!

So I think it is time for a little Mary Oliver…

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

(from New and Selected Poems, 1992)

Picture is ‘flow[er]” by Jonny Baker on Flickr

Ignite or be gone…

For Sunday a wonderful poem by Mary Oliver called “What I have learned so far”.

My interpretation? Sunday worship (or meditation on a beautiful hill side) is all well and good, but it needs to ignite into actions of love, light and kindness in this world or it is as dust in our hands.

Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of – indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

Photos are by Jonny Baker on Flickr

The Sun on Sunday…

Today was gloriously sunny 🙂

So in the hope that this is a sign of days to come, I thought I would post this poem by Mary Oliver:

Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone –
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance –
and have you ever felt for anything

such wild love –
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a world billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
empty-handed –
or have you too
turned from this world-

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

(picture is the sun setting over Troon Harbour… an everyday miracle)


Why wonder about the loaves and the fishes?
If you say the right words, the wine expands.
If you say them with love
and the felt ferocity of that love
and the felt necessity of that love,
the fish explode into the many.
Imagine him, speaking,
and don’t worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it was all those things.
Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.

(Mary Oliver  from Why I Wake Early)

I love this poem -the exuberance and the acceptance of the miraculous. It captures beautifully the love and compassion of Jesus – his words bursting into action in these most ordinary of miracles.

Picture is ‘bread’ by Jonny Baker on flickr


Some of our holiday pictures… from the one day of sunshine which we spent in St Abbs and Coldingham Bay – beautiful places which brought to mind this poem by Mary Oliver:

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was 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?

Song of the Builders…

On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God –

a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside

this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope

it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.

(Mary Oliver)

Picture is ‘bench’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr


Everyone should be born into this world happy
and loving everything.
But in truth it rarely works that way.
For myself,
I have spent my life clamoring toward it.
Halleluiah, anyway I’m not where I started!
And have you too been trudging like that,
almost forgetting how wondrous the world is
and how miraculously
kind some people can be?
And have you too decided
that probably nothing important
is ever easy?
Not, say, for the first sixty years.
I’m sixty now, and even a little more,
and some days I feel I have wings.

I love this Mary Oliver Poem.

I have posted it before but it was a while ago.

It is just bursting with joy. So here it is again… for all those who are weary and who feel as if they are trudging through their days.

And it is for me too… to remind myself how far I have travelled and how wonderful this world can be – bursting with life and energy and some truly amazing people.

I hope this week you feel you have wings 🙂

Darkness revisited…

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

(Mary Oliver)

I have come across this quote in a few places recently so I thought I would post it. I have experienced the truth of this myself. In my case the person I loved didn’t fully realise how much darkness was being passed on to me… and at the time I just wanted the hurt and confusion to go away… I willed the ‘fall out’ to stop.

But now looking back I realise that the experience was a gift. Not one I would have chosen for myself or embraced willingly… yet still a gift. I learned so much from that gift of darkness… it changed everything about me. And I still carry a little ‘piece’ of it with me to remind me how much I have grown.


This is a post from my old blog from February 2009.  I reposted it to remind myself that darkness can sometimes be a gift – perhaps not at the time we are experiencing the pain or hardship or loss. But hindsight is a wonderful thing and it can be good to look back and see how a particular experience changed us. It can be even more amazing when we see something come full circle in our lives… when something we thought was lost forever is restored or renewed.

Photo: ‘into the dark’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

The journey…

Time for some Mary Oliver.

This poem is called “The Journey”. I like the imagery and the sense of struggle and movement.  It works on so many levels… letting go (perhaps of abusive relationships) … dealing with change… discovering your own voice or finding a renewed sense of purpose and hope.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice
though the whole house
began to tremble…

and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do
determined to save
the only life you could save.”

Photo is ‘journey’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

…take what is given

A poem for a bright sunny Tuesday:

At my feet the white-petalled daisies display
the small suns of their center piece, their – if you don’t
mind my saying so – their hearts. Of course
I could be wrong, perhaps their hearts are pale and
narrow and hidden in the roots. What do I know?
But this: it is heaven itself to take what is given,
to see what is plain; what the sun lights up willingly;
for example – I think this
as I reach down, not to pick but merely to touch –
the suitability of the field for the daisies, and the
daisies for the field.

(from Daisies by  Mary Oliver)

Beauty is found in the simple things that are before us every day… sunshine and daisies.

“It is heaven itself to take what is given, to see what is plain”.

We miss so much as we rush through our days… so this week stop to look and touch the things “the sun lights up willingly”.