little bit of lagniappe

reflecting on everyday grace

Archive for the tag “Mary Oliver”


Just recently my dear mama surprised me with the latest book of poetry penned by Mary Oliver, my forever favorite poet. At a ripened 80 years of age and blessed experience, Mary O. writes openly in this latest collection called Felicity about “The Journey, “Love,” and “Felicity,” and as always, she awakens my spirit and leaves me breathless.

During this season of my life, when I feel so much but often don’t know what to say or how to say it, Mary’s words open and fill, watering my dry places and nourishing its knotty soil.

In particular, her poem called “Storage” has settled in deeply as I have spent the past number of months getting rid of things. Yes, there are more things to clean out, and yes, there is more love – of God, of trees, of birds, of everything – to let in.

Thank you, Mary, for your inspiration, and dear God, on this first day of Advent, help us to empty our storage spaces and make room for what really matters.


By Mary Oliver

When I moved from one house to another

there were many things I had no room

for. What does one do? I rented a storage

space. And filled it. Years passed.

Occasionally I went there and looked in,

but nothing happened, not a single

twinge of the heart.

As I grew older the things I cared

about grew fewer, but were more

important. So one day I undid the lock

and called the trash man. He took


I felt like the little donkey when

his burden is finally lifted. Things!

Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful

fire! More room in your heart for love,

for the trees! For the birds who own

nothing — the reason they can fly.


Summer Prayer

All that has never yet been spoken

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.

I want to free what waits within me so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me, but this is what I need to say. May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents, these deepening tides moving out, returning, I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels into the open sea.

Rainer Maria Rilke


At this onset of sweet summertime, this is my prayer, friends — for you, for me, for all of us.

May we bask in the simple freedom of LIVING and truly and simply live.

May we not be impeded by what others think or say or by the limits we place on ourselves in fear.

May we instead let flow from us what needs to flow and receive with open arms whatever this glorious mystery of today might hold.

May what it hold look something like head-tossed-back laughter, simple smiles and exchanges with strangers, letting those you love know just that – you love them, space for silence and rest, the call to rise up and dance or sing or play, and gratitude for all that was and is.

In the opening sea of today, as Mary Oliver would kindly and plainly pose, Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Go, live it, and tell me…

“We Shake with Joy”

At the close of a  week filled with pain and thanksgiving, especially for dear friends, whom I love, Mary Oliver offers solace and peace like a pillow to the weary head.

Thank you, Mary.

“We Shake with Joy”

We shake with joy, we shake with grief.

What a time they have, these two

housed as they are in the same body.

-Mary Oliver, from her collection Evidence

At the beginning of a new week, Mary Oliver fills my heart space with hope, for we are all human beings, stumbling and shaking with both joy and grief.  And never alone.

Thank you, God.

Morning of Mary

This Saturday morning, I am alive (thanks be to God).  Wait, why should that be parenthesized?


And I am alive with verses of my favorite poet.  I have been reading and listening to Mary Oliver for much of the morning, and her wild geese bat their wings in my heart and hover over the sunflowers and peonies who show no fear as their gentle, blazing petals follow the sun.  We know who they love, and they know they are loved.

While I read her poetry fairly regularly, her words never cease to touch me or evoke delight in new, mysterious ways, and this morning, listening to her read her own poetry was a special treat that I would like to share.  I love the way Mary reads because she knows the sewn bits of her story better than any of us do, and yet, the way she reads is such a tender and eager invitation for us all to join in and take part.

Close your eyes and listen below, and I hope you, too, will remember your place “in the family of things”…

Mary Oliver reading her poem Sunflowers:

Mary Oliver reading Wild Geese and other poems:

Hmmm…life giving!

Mama and I hope to visit her this summer in Provincetown, Mass, and meanwhile, I’ll look for her words and blooms today as I roam the beloved greens of Piedmont Park at the Dogwood Festival…

Welcome, Happy Morning and Afternoon!

“Sometimes I ne…

“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.”
-Mary Oliver

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the things that are staring at you — right in front of your face — are the very same things that you often miss completely?  Well, as I was throwing myself a little pity party this morning, I happened to look on my desk and see the above quote I’ve had there for quite sometime but had not noticed…in quite sometime.  So often the spirit is willing, but the flesh is so very weak.

Well, TODAY, wherever we are, may we wake up to what’s around us, pause, look carefully, and give thanks…for the simple, spectacular blessings of today.

Here’s a smattering of mine:

warm covers

fresh banana bread

singing “Holy, Holy, Holy,” an oldie, but goodie at church


children’s prayers – blatant honesty and purity

knowing glances

deep laughter from the belly

the healing scar on mama’s hip

sweetness of fruit

salad-making with mama

Costco’s aisles and yes, even the frigid produce cooler!

hot, cleansing tears

feeling that you are loved unconditionally

old sweatpants

warm cup of evening green tea with a little smidgeon of lemon

the word “smidgeon”

lotion to soothe dry, winter-cracked hands

Proverbs 3:5-6

hope of tomorrow

What have been some of the magnificent, “little” blessings you’ve experienced today?

Saturday morn poetry…

Saturday Morning, Yes

I’m up early this morning.

Listening to quiet,

hopeful for sun’s rise,

aware of the gift

of my steady heart beat.

I reach for Mary Oliver’s


and dive into scenes

and miracles and mysteries

of this creation, this world.

“And, if you have not been enchanted by this adventure – your life –

what would do for you?”

(“To Begin With, the Sweet Grass”)

Ah, yes,

this is the way to start the day.

Acknowledge the act of waking up,

taste first light,

stretch out these tender sinews of the body

and know that you are alive.

-Carter Thomas

Now, here’s a taste of who and what inspired me.  Thank you, Mary O:


Mysteries, Yes

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous

to be understood.


How grass can be nourishing in the

mouths of the lambs.

How rivers and stones are forever

in allegiance with gravity

while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bounds will

never be broken.

How people come, from delight or the

scars of damage,

to the comfort of a poem.


Let me keep my distance, always, from those

who think they have the answers.


Let me keep company always with those who say

“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,

and bow their heads.

–Mary Oliver

Evidence, 2009

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