December 30, 2020

A Mary Oliver Poem to Comfort our Weary Hearts at this Year’s End.

Here, in my bedroom, I watch from a sun-soaked window: three deer climb the rocky hillside early in the morning.

Their sturdy, bony legs move in sync together, every step finds harmony in the unsteady ground beneath them.

With joy, they chew on the long, wiry, evergreen branches. Softly, I feel their lengthy necks look up and in toward my bedroom. I swear, they know my eyes are upon them. And, I’ve felt their solid eyes on me before, too. We hold our focus, like old friends.

I tell them, “Be careful and find warmth. There’s a terrible virus out there, and sadness is everywhere.”

Through their piercing eyes, I’m assured of the beauty that is here, everywhere—all the wonder and all the awe that exists, too. I can feel their enchantment among the trees.

“How is this?” I try to say. But, the deer turn away from me to ascend further up the hill. From behind, I catch the subtle rise and fall of their chest, breathing gently. And, I find my own quiet rhythm, too.

Then, I sense an acceptance, an appreciation, a recognition for the mystery of this life. Their supple bodies fade off into the forest, and I am called to find comfort in a poem:

“Mysteries, Yes” by Mary Oliver

“Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.

How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity,
while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.

How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” And laugh in astonishment
and bow their heads.”

And with this, I bow my head to the year that’s ending and look ahead to the miracles that await us—with wonder, stillness, and balanced breaths.


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