“...But listen to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and your heart, and heart's little intelligence, and listen to me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent penny, or a scuffed shoe...”
Mary Oliver (excerpt from prose poem: “West Wind #2)
There is no poet like Mary Oliver. In "West Wind #2," she advises not only that we not run from love, but that we paddle with all our might straight for the “long falls.” She may be right. Humans are capable of living contentedly without romantic love, but there has to be something to take its place, or we don't live well. Having love coming in our direction is heart warming and deeply moving, but having love going out of us to others is essential. So we surround ourselves with friends, family, pets, and we bask in the energy of shared community. Don't underestimate the power of loving and being loved—it restores broken bodies and lost souls.
Springtime reminds us of the importance of renewal. In the poem, “Saint Francis and the Sow,” Galway Kinnell wrote:
stands for all things,
even for those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness
to put a hand on the brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing...”
Sometimes, it is necessary to relearn how to love and be loved. We do it in fits and starts, and always imperfectly, especially if we've been burned before—and everyone has been burned before. We practice touching that hot surface until our hands are tough enough to stand it—because life without love is like a vacant lot. We stand in the middle of it, trowel in hand, overwhelmed, but ready to plant something alive, something that will flower from within of self-blessing.
Today, on this first day of poetry month, gather your chicks around you, large and small, and beam some love energy into them. “...When you hear that unmistakable pounding—when you feel the mist on your mouth and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls plunging and streaming—then row, row for all your life toward it.” (Oliver) It will renew your soul.
In the Spirit,