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The Buddha at Work - "Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?"

I've been struggling with what to say about this beautiful Mary Oliver poem, "Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?", and struggling with suitably formatting it on this system. So instead, I'd love to just pull out a few lines that really struck me as apropos to our conversation, and link the poem itself for you to read yourselves. Enjoy:

 

"Do you think this world is only an entertainment for you?

 

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides

with perfect courtesy, to let you in!

Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!

Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over

the dark acorn of your heart!

 

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint

that something is missing from your life!"

 

"Well, there is time left --

fields everywhere invite you into them.

 

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away

from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

 

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is

the mystery, which is death as well as life, and

not be afraid!

 

To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome

with amazement!

 

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine

god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,

nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the

present hour,

to the song falling out of the mockingbird's pink mouth,

to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened

in the night

 

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

 

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?"

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Comments

Wow. Mary does it again

Thanks for posting this excerpt, Josh. I had not read this one before. Every Mary Oliver poem I have ever read takes my breath away with her ability to cut through to the core of what life is.

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