Life is not a straight line. It's a downpour of gifts, please – hold out your hand

Thank you for being here. I'm so glad you're here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

To Begin With, the Sweet Grass

I don't typically post long poems, mostly because I don't really like them.  I like them short and sweet.  So when I saw how long this one was (below), it almost lost me.  But then i looked again and realized it was written by Mary Oliver and i don't think i've read a single poem of hers that i didn't like.  So, i kept reading. 

And, whew.  It was one of those goose-bumpy kinds-of-things for me...while i was reading, my heart started beating more quickly and then more quickly still.  And when i was done reading, i felt fuller and less thirsty. or maybe more thirsty.   And like i needed to share.  And like maybe i need to get it tattooed on my whole body.

So, grab a beverage and settle in.  And don't stop reading until you get to the end...seriously.  And then go back to the beginning and read it again.

To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
by Mary Oliver

Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat of the sweet grass?
Will the owl bite off its own wings?
Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air or forget to sing?
Will the rivers run upstream?

Behold, I say–behold
the reliability and the finery and the teachings of this gritty earth gift.

Eat bread and understand comfort.
Drink water, and understand delight.
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds
who are drinking the sweetness, who are thrillingly gluttonous.

For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.

And someone’s face, whom you love, will be as a star
both intimate and ultimate,
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.
And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two
beautiful bodies of your lungs.

The witchery of living
is my whole conversation
with you my darlings.
All I can tell you is what I know.

Look, and look again.
This world is not just a little thrill for the eyes.

It’s more than bones.
It’s more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.
It’s more than the beating of the single heart.
It’s praising.
It’s giving until the giving feels like receiving.
You have a life—just imagine that!
You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe still another.

Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus,
the dancer, the potter,
to make me a begging bowl
which I believe
my soul needs.

And if I come to you,
to the door of your comfortable house
with unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails,
will you put something into it?

I would like to take this chance.
I would like to give you this chance.

We do one thing or another; we stay the same or we change.
Congratulations if you have changed.

Let me ask you this.
Do you also think that beauty exists for some fabulous reason?

And if you have not been enchanted by this adventure—your life—
what would do for you?

What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.
That was many years ago.
Since then I have gone out from my confinements, though with difficulty

I mean the ones that are thought to rule my heart.
I cast them out, I put them on the ush pile.
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment somehow or another).

And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world

p.s:  Lori Portka (my new favorite artist) posted one of my paintings and a poem on her blog today!  Go check it out.  And if you haven't yet, you must take a look (and then another look) at her beautiful artwork...


  1. Dear Julia, it is my first visit and i really adore your lovely cozy bubble space. This is really such a lovely poem and you were really right about this poem. I kept reading till the end. :) I also adore your paintings...especially the one featured on sweet lori's blog. :) Have a lovely merry happy day and love to yoU!

  2. Dear Jacqueline,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment--i was very touched. I'm so glad you stopped by...hope to "see" you here again!

    With love.


  3. Wow, so beautiful. As usual you are The Gatherer, bringing what feels like a fresh bouquet of spring flowers to my experience, except that in this case it is a gift of the soul to be enjoyed long after the flowers have gone. Thank you, dear friend.

  4. And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.
    I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
    I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
    I have become younger.

    (funny..this didn't show up!)


What are you thinking/feeling? I'd really love to know...

♥ Julia