I spent the last few days away with a dear old friend that I have known for 20 years or more. We walked on the beach, celebrated a wedding, meditated and talked about relationships: their gifts and sorrows. We laughed until we cried a couple of times. Our sorrows are different as we each journey through life but the places in us that need and resist remain matched in their growth.
My friend is a lover of poetry and her collections by Mary Oliver move me to seeing life experience with clearer eyes. Embodying our sorrow as a small love that is yours to tend and care for is a gentle and effective way to hold onto our sorrow lovingly without being it. Ms. Oliver is a master of using the fewest words to contain and transform the deepest universal experiences of life.
Sometimes the way we name our experience is the most powerful and growth-filled opportunity we have to embracing our emotional lives.
Love sorrow. She is yours now, and you must
take care of what has been
given. Brush her hair, help her
into her little coat, hold her hand,
especially when crossing a street. For, think,
what if you should lose her? Then you would be
sorrow yourself; her drawn face, her sleeplessness
would be yours. Take care, touch
her forehead that she feel herself not so
utterly alone. And smile, that she does not
altogether forget the world before the lesson.
Have patience in abundance. And do not
ever lie or ever leave her even for a moment
by herself, which is to say, possibly, again,
abandoned. She is strange, mute, difficult,
sometimes unmanageable but, remember, she is a child.
And amazing things can happen. And you may see,
as the two of you go
walking together in the morning light, how
little by little she relaxes; she looks about her;
she begins to grow.