Tag Archives: Mary Oliver

The Summer Day(s)


Wherever we live, summer time tends to push our biological clocks at a faster pace than during the other seasons. I certainly never seem to avoid the busyness that accompanies summer, and unlike many businesses and fairs that are booming around town during this time of the year, my blog closes up shop for three months. It’s truly a slow season here. And that’s okay. Although summer is busy and full of fun activities, it is also a season meant for relaxing and noticing. It’s a time to take life in at it’s fullest – even if its taking a deep breath in the quietest of moments.

This past weekend I spent some time in the garage going through some boxes that have been untouched since we moved to our new space in March. I came across a crate of various papers, articles, and business cards that I have been collecting over the years and found this poem by Mary Oliver, which I think captures the moment.  I am posting the poem mainly so I can toss out the paper, but also so I can remind myself to take time to soak in the rest of summer, not judge myself too harshly about how I spend my days–just as long as I am being present and honoring my one wild and precious life.

Good Summer Day(s) to you!

The Summer Day

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

The 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 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 be 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?

~Mary Oliver~


Finding Your Place in the Family of Things


The other day, it surprised me to hear the sound of geese in the distance. I thought most had left Minnesota, but this flock was just starting their journey South. Their flight reminded me of my life path recently–a little surprising and just starting.

Their journey also made me think about Mary Oliver’s poem, “Wild Geese,” which still inspires healing and reflection for me during the Winter season when I read it. I hope you, too, find it worthwhile.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees.

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

Love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

Are moving across landscapes

Over the prairies and the deep trees,

The mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

Are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

The world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–

Over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

– MARY OLIVER, “Wild Geese”

Reflection: Each season of life presents new challenges and offers more opportunities to develop wisdom about ourselves and the world around us. Like the wild geese mentioned in the poem, as a new season approaches where do you place yourself “in the family of things”? Are you satisfied with your place? If not, what resistance do you have to your place? Are you lonely? If yes, what is your current relationship to nature, people and the world around you? Where do you feel connected and where do you feel disconnected? Do you love what you love in life and really mean it?

Mary Oliver and Maya Angelou’s thoughts on Gratitude


In honor of  Thanksgiving–Mandala Reflections would like to share a poem by Mary Oliver and a reading by Maya Angelou on gratitude. Instead of posting on Thanksgiving Day, I thought it might be useful to provide these reflections in advance for everyday pondering. Hopefully if anything they can allow for a pause in your day to remember no matter how bad it seems there is likely something you can be thankful for–in fact, maybe you will find enough reasons to create a list and hang it somewhere you see often.

As the light begins to fade in Minnesota, I have found myself to be in a place of deep reflection which at times can lead to less than grateful thoughts. Both the poem and the video help ground me when I find myself falling into habitual patterns of complaining. Both Mary and Maya remind me that part of well-being includes remembering and honoring what is important and practicing gratitude.

Mindful 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?

One Percent by Maya Angelou