Curiosity and Gratitude

Two Saturdays ago I participated in a poetry workshop focusing on the works of Mary Oliver. It was a wonderful post-election pick-me-up. For me, the most powerful part was introducing ourselves while sharing our favorite Mary Oliver poem and our reasons for choosing that particular piece.

I shared At the River Clarion. While lengthier than most of her poems, Mary still seems to capture such a great depth of the human experience in one work. The sharing of each participant was a beautiful practice in listening; it moved me.

Recently, someone shared another favorite Oliver poem with me, What is the greatest gift? The first time this poem entered my life was five years ago upon receiving a copy from a mentor of mine. I also read it again a few weeks ago when it came to mind after listening to a reflection on the ways curiosity can be an antidote to judgment. Since it is a special time of thanks, I give gratitude to this poem and all the people with whom I've shared the words, who teach me to be open to all life.

Blessings of Thanksgiving to you all.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

What is the greatest gift?

What is the greatest gift?
Could it be the world itself -- the oceans, the meadowlark,
     the patience of the trees in the wind?
Could it be love, with its sweet clamor of passion?

Something else -- something else entirely
     holds me in thrall.
That you have a life that I wonder about
     more than I wonder about my own.
That you have a life -- courteous and intelligent -- 
     that I wonder about more than I wonder about my own.
That you have a soul -- your own, no one else's --
     that I wonder about more than I wonder about my own.
So that I find my soul clapping its hands for yours
     more than my own.

(the wild geese announcing our place in the family of things)

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