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”.

Thursday… watch and pray.

This is one of my favourite Mary Oliver Poems. Her preoccupation is with the created world and the beauty which is offered to us every day.

Here creation keeps faith and watches with Jesus in the garden as his disciples sleep.

The grass, the roses, the lilies and the crickets… the wind, the stars and the water of the lake keep watch as Jesus cries out his fear and anguish to his heavenly father.

The grass never sleeps.
Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye that shuts until morning.

Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.

The cricket has such splendid fringe on its feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.

Jesus said, wait with me.
And maybe the stars did, maybe the wind wound itself into a silver tree, and didn’t move, maybe

the lake far away, where once he walked as on a
blue pavement,
lay still and waited, wild awake.

Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut, that could not
keep that vigil, how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be a part of the story.

And isn’t this so reassuring… to us who are so utterly human… to know we too are part of the story?

On waking early…

Those of you who followed my previous blog will know how much I like Mary Oliver’s poetry.

I thought I would post this one, giving testimony to the glory of creation on a bright sunny morning – “best preacher there ever was”.

It seems appropriate for the first day of British Summer Time.

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even,
the miserable and the crotchety
– best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens to be
where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light
– good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

Picture is ‘morning glow’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

In Blackwater…

A “Sunshine and Shadows” type poem for Saturday from the wonderful Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Picture is ‘across the water’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr