I wrote this post months ago and never published it…but the words feel even more close to my heart now with the recent loss of my dear grandfather.
Oh how much I love reading poems by Mary Oliver…
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 the 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, Dream Work
“To mourn for one is to mourn for all. To mourn with all is to fully participate at the very foundation of Being Itself. For some reason, which I have yet to understand, beauty hurts. Suffering opens the channel through which all of Life flows and by which all creation breathes, and I still do not know why. Yet it is somehow beautiful, even if it is a sad and tragic beauty.” –Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
Tonight I’m thinking about loss, about “meanwhile the world goes on”, this strange yet beautiful thing about suffering intertwined with being and living. Loss is an undertone, a rhythm I am learning to accept, learning to move with instead of fight against.
…Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the praries and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meantwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again…
Life keeps moving, carrying hearts that are sometimes celebrating and sometimes aching — and sometimes a lot of both at once.
I once thought that loss was something to reject: to fight against, to insist in overcoming, even though I knew that was impossible. But loss, according to Rohr, is necessary to “fully participate at the very foundation of Being Itself.”
What a paradox — to mourn and grieve (think: absence) as a necessary way to live (think: presence). Tonight, Mary Oliver brings comfort — because of that word “meanwhile” — life’s continued movement, despite loss and heartache, the sun continuing to shine and the geese flying home. And Rohr brings a normalcy to this thing called loss — that it is part of the very fabric of being.