have you ever tried to enter the long black branches?

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches
of other lives —
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 hanging from the branches of the young locust trees, in early summer,
feel like?

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!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?

Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

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 tiplets 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?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,
and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.


Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or two of music, damp and rouge-red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.


For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?

Fall in! Fall in!


A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what’s coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.


Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daisies,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn’t ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean’s edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.

~ Mary Oliver ~
seen at return to the center
Mary Oliver’s work is like a mystic’s rapture with her ecstasy found in nature and she is shouting at us to WAKE UP!  She invites us to enter into life more fully through a simple noticing.  Just a noticing of all that is around us, an entering into all that is surrounds us.  To experience an immersion into direct experience… to lie down in the grass as though you were the grass!  It comes naturally and easily to a child.  This poem has the ring of a Remembrance to it, beckoning us to remember what it is to enter into nature and life with a whole-heartedness that we often lack as adults.
Do you think this world is only an entertainment for you?  Are we going to numbly sleepwalk our way through our days, wasting our precious lives, not even noticing them pass by?  Can any of us afford to live in this half-hearted way?
And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away from wherever you are, to look for your soul?   Who, indeed?  Isn’t it most often we ourselves who chide?  Why do adults fret over “wasting time”  doing simple things like sitting in silence or going for a stroll?  While we truly do “waste time” attending to the never-ending list of duties and plans and strategies…  Why not throw out the list of duties and just take a walk?  Why not lie down in the tall grass as if you were grass?  Why not look up at the blue, blue sky and dream a little?  Why not notice the details of all of life exploding around us?  Why not enter the world completely, step out of our skin and enter the mystery?
My favorite wake-up line of all time is in this poem: Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?  Even reading this line causes me to stop and notice the shallowness of my breath.  I stop and breathe deeply and suddenly a completely different life becomes available to me!
 While the soul, after all, is only a window,
and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.
The poet reminds us that it really isn’t all that difficult to become engaged in life, to awaken.  It only takes an opening of the window, a reaching for the latch.  What stops us is listening instead to the shouting voices of caution and prudence.    She urges us to stop thinking, stop listening to these voices, to just Fall in!  Fall in!
And  the simplicity of the last lines:  I climb.  I backtrack.  I float.  I ramble my way home.  Perfect description of the easy grace and innocence that prevails when we slip the noose of sleepwalking through our lives and join the living, breathing, wonderous world that is our home.rainbow warrior awaken! mara friedman