Sunday, April 8, 2012


To those who have come to expect more frequent postings from me, I apologize for failing to post anything of substance since mid-February.  Simply put, it's been one of those hectic periods in which travel and the demands of domestic life have left little time for other pursuits.  

That said, I hope to return to more frequent postings, beginning today with a couple of lovely poems that I have stumbled across in recent days.  Each of these poems seems to capture the spirit of renewal that is resonating deeply with me on this Easter Day.                                            

                                            A SETTLEMENT

                    Look, it's spring.  And last year's loose dust has turned
                    into this soft willingness.  The wind-flowers have come
                    up trembling, slowly the brackens are up-lifting their
                    curvaceous and pale bodies.  The thrushes have come
                    home, none less than filled with mystery, sorrow,
                    happiness, music, ambition.

                    And I am walking out into all this with nowhere to
                    go and no task undertaken but to turn the pages of
                    this beautiful world over and over, in the world of my mind.

                    Therefore, dark past, 
                     I'm about to do it.
                     I'm about to forgive you

                     for everything.

                                               Mary Oliver
                       What Do We Know:  Poems and Prose Poems


                    Do not try to save the whole world or do anything grandiose.
                    Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life
                    and wait there patiently,
                    until the song that is your life 
                    falls into your own cupped hands
                    and you recognize and greet it.
                    Only then will you know how to give yourself
                    to this world
                    so worth the rescue.

                                        Martha Postlethwaite



  1. I adore Mary, her view on life is always spot on, but this morning the Martha Postlewaite poem is speaking to me in a quietly profound way. It's just perfect. Thank you so much for this, George. Happy Easter.

  2. Thanks, TERESA. I also found the Postlethwaite poem to be quite moving. Have a lovely Easter.

  3. Yes, excellent choices of poems.
    Another hooray for the second poem.

  4. I love the word "clearing" and all that it entails. The clearing of life can mean so much. We came into the clearing. The clearing is where mystical things can happen. ...

  5. Thanks, ELIZABETH. Glad you liked the Postlethwaite poem, and Happy Easter to you!

  6. Thanks, RUBYE JACK. I, too, gravitate toward this notion of a clearing, not only as a place where things have been cleared out of the forest, but as a metaphorical place in which we can begin the clear out the useless debris of our overburdened lives.

  7. The frequency does not matter, George. Each post, no matter when it comes, is a gift.

    Settle down, clear out — and move on!

  8. Thanks, ROBERT, and I am settling down, clearing out the clutter, and moving on. It's always two steps forward, one step backward, but ultimately onward—through difficulty to the stars, as the Romans used to say.

  9. Boy, I dunno…Oliver or Postlethwaite? Seems to me that in their own ways, both speak to the value of space and time, of waiting before doing, of quietude and thought; of finding life's grace by embracing its pace.

    A good message for Easter, regardless.

  10. Thanks, GRIZZ. Oh how I love your words about "finding life's grace by embracing its pace." I will remember that, though I sometimes wonder if the appreciation of life's grace is increasingly threatened by the maddening pace at which life is sometimes lived. Perhaps I have just answered by own question, for it strikes me that life cannot be truly "lived" at a maddening pace; it can only be depleted.

  11. Hello George, Glad you've been busy with life - but, also glad you're back. I love Ms Oliver's poetry - this line "turn the pages of this beautiful world over and over, in the world of my mind" resonates. I also like thinking of making a clearing and greeting my life. As always, a pleasure to visit with you.

  12. Hi, BARB. Thanks for your comments. Yes, this notion of creating a clearing in the forest of one's life really resonates with me as well. We need peaceful, unencumbered places in which to rediscover ourselves. Good to hear from you, and Happy Easter.

  13. Forgiving and waiting. Two of the hardest things to do. Beautiful poems, so earthy - perfect for spring and Easter. And your comment on my blog - I do agree with you. It is funny, but the older I get, the less I care about "rules". I always thought it would be the opposite!

  14. Thanks, MARGARET, and I'm delighted you like the poems. Also glad I didn't offend you on your blog with my theological musings.

  15. Thank you George. So what I needed to read today.

  16. You're very welcome, BONNIE. These two poems also appeared to me just when I needed them. Such is the nature of the universe, I think. Often, when we are lamenting a situation and hoping it will change, something like a poem comes along and reminds us that we need a change of perspective more than a change in circumstances. Happy Easter!

  17. Both of these poems have meant a great deal to me in recent days too, George. I take from them the simple belief that we need do nothing but live. We don't do anyone much good, including ourselves, if we attempt to force out what is not there to give. How can we give our attention to all that we encounter, and yet not be undone by some of it? I think the answer is to follow the spirit of these poets, and do what you have done, which is to give yourself permission to focus your attention elsewhere for a while, though I missed your presence in this space.

    The Postlethwaite poem reminds me of the truth I found in Isaiah, after leaving the church. I had heard my whole life that we must be "broken vessels" for the living water to flow through. It was the wrong message for me and who I was. But later I discovered Isaiah 58:11:

    . . . and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

  18. Thanks so much, RUTH, for your insightful comments. You have brilliantly identified two of our great existential dilemmas: first, the futility of "forc[ing] out what is not there to give;" and, second, the difficulty of giving attention to all that we encounter, "yet not be undone by some of it." These are issues that have weighed heavily on me in recent months.

    Thank you so much for the quote from Isaiah. To think of ourselves as watered gardens, or springs of waters, "whose waters fail not"—that seems to be the very essence of faith, and it matters not to me whether the faith stems from a western or eastern spiritual tradition. Buddha and Isaiah would have undoubtedly agreed upon the need to trust the unfolding of life, to know that, notwithstanding our reptilian fears, all is well and all shall be well.

  19. That is the second Mary Oliver poem I have read in Blogland today George - I had never heard of here and I really love both poems, so shall look her up shortly. Happy Easter to you too. Nice to have you back.

  20. Thanks, PAT! It's nice to be back, and i'm delighted that you liked the Mary Oliver poem. She is one of our best contemporary poets and I highly recommend her work. I think you would really enjoy her poetry.

  21. Two very fine poems, thank you.

    I have just read a Mary Oliver poem over at Pamela Terry and Edward's blog. Pics of trees and water too.

    Good to see you back again.

  22. Thanks for your comments, CAIT. Glad you liked the poems, and it's good to be back.

  23. Ahh it does seem to be one of those years. Nearly everyone I know,self included, has been having the same kind of, things pushing and demanding they be done. NOW! But then I found the time to look at all my favorite old blogs..and found this! Thanks! Truly beautiful poems and pictures. Loved the Mary Oliver and the Postlethwaite (imagine learning to spell that in kindergarten!) So again, thanks, it's been well worth the wait!

  24. Thanks for your thoughtful and generous comments, Karin. Glad you liked the poems and the photos.

  25. I think that that Martha P poem is exactly what I needed to read today.

    Are those photos from the Hadrian's Wall expedition?

  26. Thanks, Dominic. Glad you like the poem. The first photo was taken on the Coast to Coast walk I took a couple of years ago. The second was taken on the Hadrian's Wall path one day when you, Robert, and I were having our lunch. Hope all is well with you and your family.

  27. ...into your own cupped hands..

    I like the idea of "clearing out" and resting, waiting.

    Beautiful poems. Glad you have been enjoying the coast - I have yet to get that way as I keep going up into my mountains. :)

  28. Thanks, Margaret. Glad you liked this post.