I Worried, I Grieved, and Then I Sang
My friend Doug von Koss, an excellent poet in his own right, would teach in his workshops that it was truly a good practice to read a poem every morning at breakfast, vitamins for the heart and soul. Here’s a double dose of vitamins:
I came upon Mary Oliver’s poem as the opening poem in Katy Butler’s wonderful The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life. (It IS wonderful; as practical and useful as it is wise and heartful).
And Rashani’s poem I know from it being inscribed in the dining hall at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Both poems gentle reminders of how we can choose to be resilient and honoring of life, even when things are hard and we’re not sure what to do.
I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
and gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
– Mary Oliver
There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken,
A shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is sorrow beyond all grief which leads to joy,
And a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space too vast for words
Through which we pass with each loss,
Out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
Whose serrated edges cut the heart as we break open
To the place inside which is unbreakable and whole,
While learning to sing.