Friday, October 09, 2015

So many things to be thankful for (and a poem by Mary Oliver)

Last night I went for a walk with a friend.  We parked  downtown and walked along the lake as evening descended.

The air was cool and calm.
The sunset was spectacular: long ribbons of bright pink and gray and black.

In the gazebo down by the waterfront, a man and woman were ballroom dancing and talking quietly together while classical music played in the background.

My friend and I talked about books, about our kids, about struggles we or those we cared about were facing.

Then we stopped at a cafe and had pumpkin latte and white hot chocolate.  The warm, creamy drink was comforting on a fall evening.

 Afterward I found myself feeling thankful:  for friendship, for stimulating conversation, for health and strength to walk, for the beauty of music and nature, for things that taste delicious and warm the body. 

There are so many things to be grateful for if we just take a moment to stop and experience them.

So because it's Thanksgiving weekend, I'm sharing a beautiful poem by Mary Oliver:  "The Place I Want to Get Back To."

The place I want to get back to
is where
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness
and first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me
they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let’s see who she is
and why she is sitting
on the ground like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;
and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way
I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward
and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years
I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed,
can’t be repeated.
If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named

Mary Oliver
Thirst (Beacon Press, 2006)


  1. What a beautiful moment you had, Jeannie. Thanks for sharing it.. And Happy Thanksgiving to you. Was it the 10th? I can never remember. Gratitude changes our lives when we look for it.

    1. Our Thanksgiving is today, the 12th. Yes, I think gratitude is a life-changing perspective. I love the Mary Oliver poem - she is so good at seeing and appreciating the world around her. Thanks for coming by!

  2. Unbelievable. I promise I didn't read this post before I wrote mine this morning! Gratitude -- oh yes, I know it!
    BTW, I'm pretty new to Mary Oliver's poems, but it seems like every one I've read has resonated with me strongly. Maybe I should pick up a volume of her poetry and get to know her a little better.

    1. I love her poetry because it's so accessible yet not simplistic -- it always gives me a new glimpse into the natural world and into people, too. Thanks for commenting, Adriana; it's so nice to see you "back!"

  3. I love the senses you've evoked through your words: the couple dancing to classical music, the smell and taste of the lattes, the cool air. I think you touched all five physical senses, and then tapped into the deeper, sixth sense: our sense of wonder and gratitude. Beautiful.

    1. I'm glad that's what came through, Laura, because that's what I felt -- how lovely all these sensory things were and how they all came together just to make me feel grateful for life. And Oliver's poem puts that across so well too; she's such an amazing poet. Thanks for commenting!

  4. "Gratitude." She ends with that key word that is all the point: as we hold on to gratitude we are compelled to overcome any urge at any time to complain. An excellent reminder.

    1. It is, isn't it? I love how she returns to the same place just in hopes of having that wonderful moment again -- she is so grateful for it.


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