Harbor: Instructions in Joy


Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

In these days approaching our national holiday of Thanksgiving, may you find yourself lostblades of grass inside this soft world, instructing yourself over and over again in joy.  May you find yourself a skilled observer of the ordinary, the drab, the unexceptional, the daily presentations of life. May we find ourselves learning from the untrimmable light of the world, the ocean’s shine and the prayers that are made of grass.

Bob Patrick

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