Snow Geese (by Mary Oliver)

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
to ask
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.
One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was
a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun
so they were, in part at least, golden. I
held my breath
as we do
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us
as with a match,
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,
but delightfully,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.
The geese
flew on,
I have never seen them again.
Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won’t.
It doesn’t matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

As an opener for our group meeting my friend shared this poem by Mary Oliver – Snow Geese.  I had never heard it before and I didn’t know who Mary Oliver was.  But that soon changed after hearing this poem.  It opened me up to a whole new world and I began reading all the poetry I could by Mary Oliver.  For some reason at that moment in time I needed this poem.  It spoke to me.  It touched me.  I experienced poetry as a way to connect with God, with life and with myself.  I now find that reading poetry is one of my favorite ways to “do” spiritual reading.   On hearing it that first time it was the last lines that struck me and inspired me to want to come alive and live mindfully rather than mindlessly and to see the holy everywhere.  And since then as I’ve continued to read it, I’ve memorized the first lines – for they seem to call me to love well in the moment those people and things that I do love for they will not last.

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