Look with your arms wide open.

It has been at least a week of days, probably more like two. The day ends in wonder… literally. What did I do all day? I might rally the next day and do something that counts in productiveness’ eye as worthwhile. 

Lately, I sit in my old red chair in the living room where I can see out the window.  I read and take note of well-crafted sentences.  I thoughtfully copy whole paragraphs in my notebook that mean something to me.  I read texts and savour pictures of my family that live too far away. I walk my dog, always to the sea, and wonder at the vicissitudes: whether the day is grey or bright, how the winds and tide shift the décor, how the gulls catch air and glide and a big heron rests on the rock where I linger. 

And then, when I felt like I needed to do something, I picked up Mary Oliver’s book, Devotions, and just opened to a page.  It was page 186, not quite in the middle.  I like that about a book of poetry; order is not required, you can begin anywhere and only read one page to get filled up.  This one began,

There are things you can’t reach. But

you can reach out to them, and all day long.

The wind, the bird flying away.  The idea of God.

And it can keep you as busy as anything else, and happier.

Yes, I know the joy of that kind of busy, but I’m glad Mary went on to explain,

I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.

Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around as though with your arms open.

Open to receiving.  That is worth doing. 

WHERE DOES THE TEMPLE BEGIN, WHERE DOES IT END?

There are things you can’t reach. But

you can reach out to them, and all day long. 

The wind, the bird flying away.  The idea of God.

 And it can keep you as busy as anything else, and happier.

The snake slides away; the fish jumps, like a little lily,

out of water and back in; the goldfinches sing

            from the unreachable top of the tree.

 I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.

 Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around

as though with you arms open.

And thinking: maybe something will come, some

            shining coil of wind,

            or a few leaves from any old tree—

              they are all in this too.

 And now I will tell you the truth.

Everything in the world

comes. 

At least, closer.

And, cordially.

 Like the nibbling, tinsel-eyed fish; the unlooping snake.

Like goldfinches, little dolls of gold

fluttering around the corner of the sky

 of God, the blue air.

Mary Oliver, Devotions

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