Every day we navigate the zigs and zags of our lives. We take familiar routes to work or school, or the daily run. The things we see every day can become so common in our vision that it is not unusual for them to essentially disappear from view.
There is an art to paying attention; it is work, no question about it. We are being convinced in our culture that we must pursue the dazzle, the epic, the sensational. The ordinary then must find a place off to the side just outside our peripheral vision.
This poem can help remind us of the extra-ordinary that is alive and present surrounding us no matter where we are. The sliver of sunlight moving imperceptibly across the floor. A dandelion blooming through a crack in the sidewalk, a kind “hello” from the person bagging our groceries. The audaciously red cardinal singing on the fence post for all he’s worth. The favorite old song on the radio when we needed it most.
The risk is letting it touch us in ways that we will actually see it for the beauty is holds, and be moved by it; to come awake to our own life through new eyes and ears. It is sure to be there…
Little Summer Poem Touching the Subject of Faith
by Mary Oliver
I listen and look
under the sun's brass and even
into the moonlight, but I can't hear
anything, I can't see anything --
not the pale roots digging down, nor the green
stalks muscling up,
nor the leaves
deepening their damp pleats,
nor the tassels making,
nor the shucks, nor the cobs.
the leafy fields
grow taller and thicker --
green gowns lofting up in the night,
showered with silk.
And so, every summer,
I fail as a witness, seeing nothing --
I am deaf too
to the tick of the leaves,
the tapping of downwardness from the banyan feet --
all of it
beyond any seeable proof, or hearable hum.
And, therefore, let the immeasurable come.
Let the unknowable touch the buckle of my spine.
Let the wind turn in the trees,
and the mystery hidden in the dirt
swing through the air.
How could I look at anything in this world
and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart?
What should I fear?
in the leafy green ocean
the honeycomb of the corn's beautiful body
is sure to be there.