I set out to write my monthly blog and realized that honoring a beloved, recently departed poet was a far better choice. Mary Oliver lives on in her achingly beautiful poems that celebrate the natural world and impart simple lessons about the importance of paying attention and living in the moment. This month, I will also be designing an invitation to celebrate the life of my recently departed mother-in-law, Eleanor Barrie, who worshipped in the church of nature and always reminded me to “Stop and smell the roses.” I’ll be reading this poem at her ceremony and reminding myself, over and over again, to heed its message.
Oh do you have time to linger for just a little while out of your busy
and very important day for the goldfinches that have gathered in a field of thistles
for a musical battle, to see who can sing the highest note, or the lowest,
or the most expressive of mirth, or the most tender? Their strong, blunt beaks drink the air
as they strive melodiously not for your sake and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning but for sheer delight and gratitude - believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world. I beg of you,
do not walk by without pausing to attend to this rather ridiculous performance.
It could mean something. It could mean everything. It could be what Rilke meant when he wrote:
You must change your life.
~ Mary Oliver