Sunday, April 3, 2011

April's poem of the month and some random thoughts

Look at me being early with the poem of the month. I was thinking of this one last night and this morning. It's called "When I Am Among the Trees," by Mary Oliver. You might think it kind of strange that I have been thinking of a poem called, "When I Am Among the Trees," given that in the desert of the southwest, we have very few trees. For Oliver (or for the persona speaking in the poem), the trees are crucial to her slowing down and realizing the simplicity and purpose in her life. I understand that, having grown up loving the mountains for the same reason. But these reminders to not hurry through the world and to be filled with light also come from spiritual sources for me.

Last night while J was at the priesthood session of the general conference for our church, the kids and I picked up a Little Caesars pizza and headed to the park. We played kickball, people watched, and timed each other on made-up obstacle courses through the play equipment. (Watch out! I can slide and balance beam with the best of them--just don't make me do the monkey bars.) The sun left brilliant pink streaks in the sky, the air was perfectly warm, and I was perfectly content and overwhelmingly thankful. I felt as Mary Oliver writes in this poem, convinced of the need for simplicity, "to go easy, to be filled with light." I wanted to remember not to "hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often."

I have a problem with walking slowly--I multi-task and multi-task and multi-task. And I get a lot done in life. But life is usually not about getting things done and sometimes I need J to remind me of that (he's good at balancing me out in that respect) and sometimes I need a spring/summer night with my kids to remind me of that. So here's Mary Oliver's fabulous poem. (By the way, April is the National Month of Poetry. Do you have a favorite?)

When I Am Among the Trees

by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust,

equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness,

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness, and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

“and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.”

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