Tomorrow morning I’m leaving on a road trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia. We are driving for 2 days to join my partner’s family for a memorial service after the sudden death of a beloved nephew. It will be a happy/sad gathering.

There’s a lot of that in life…happy/sad. Reading Kahlil Gibran as a young adult left an impression on me…”When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

Each year I anticipate the opening of my peonies. They give me such delight. Just a few days ago it happened! So tomorrow before I leave on my trip I will gaze and inhale one last time. The warm weather ahead will certainly entice them to open into full bloom.

I’m happy/sad about leaving my peonies. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The temporal nature of life heightens our awareness and brings a preciousness to life. It is a beautiful part of the human condition.

And thankfully we have poetry. Are you ready for some Mary Oliver?

Take a deep breath and prepare yourself to receive this poem.
Read it once and then read it again.

Notice what stands out for you.

There are many words of wisdom and delight offered here and there will be some that will have special meaning for you today.



Peonies by Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever.

Was there a particular word or a phrase that spoke to you today?
Read it again and again.
Was there a visual image or a memory that was evoked?
Stay with it for awhile.
Was there a question that was asked?
Answer it.

Let being present to peonies and the reading of a poem teach you how to live your life.

Linger with the images and the feelings that arise.
Ponder the questions.
Open yourself with curiosity.
Say yes.

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