Daily Archives: January 6, 2021

Learning to be astonished

I can’t imagine that anyone of a certain age still does New Year’s resolutions. I don’t. Even intentions freak me a out a bit. I have…things that I might do….

But here’s one I REALLY want to do. I was in a bookshop and saw Clive Jame’s Fire of Joy, his final book-a collection of poems to learn by heart and say aloud. Yes! I plan to become that embarrassing relative who recites poems at the dinner table! No. Not quite. Mind you, having been exposed pretty regularly to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner as a child, being that embarrassing (but beloved)  old person is in my DNA.

No…I just remembered that there was a time when I learned by heart poems that I loved. And that knowing them might be more helpful and comforting on my death bed (as they were for Clive) than lying there and saying Oh, you know the one. About the woman with the hair. By whatshername. So, each month this year I will might remember and say aloud (to myself unless asked) one poem. And this month’s, remembered from heart, is:

My work is loving the world. Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird – equal seekers of sweetness. Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums. Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn? Am I no longer young and still not half – perfect. Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished. The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture. Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are there, which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth and the wren, and the sleepy dug up clam, telling them all, over and over, how it is that we live forever.

Mary Oliver

I love my walks in the hills and I am learning to be astonished. Lately I have been astonished by the bare limbed, bark shed gorgeousness of the yellow boxes…everywhere! And the tiny fringe lilies…hardly anywhere. And dainty mushrooms which I have never seen before but that might be because I’m still learning.