“Hello, sun in …

“Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.”
― Mary Oliver

I could read Mary Oliver all day.

I want to print this out in big, bold letters, and frame it, and hang it close to my bed, so that I remember why I am waking up each day.

Here, where I live, the snow has melted, and it seems like spring has finally arrived. Thank you, sun in my face. Finally.

The divorce won’t hold me back today. Not when I see daffodils everywhere.

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The Journey

If there is one perfect poem in the world written for divorced woman, I think it must be The Journey, by Mary Oliver.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

There But for the Grace of God

“Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.”

Wm. Paul Young

One afternoon this week, my seven-year-old and I drove down a city street lined with mansions. We stopped at a traffic light, and my daughter screeched, “Mom! What is that man doing?”

I looked up. A middle-aged man was pawing through a garbage can, grabbing food that was most likely thrown away by students from the nearby magnet high school.

I grew up in New York City in the seventies, so homeless people have been part of my consciousness for long as I can remember. Women covered in dirty blankets, shuffling through Grand Central Station. Shadowy men huddled over burning trashcans along the Bowery. Mothers clutching babies, elderly men begging. I remember them all.

But my daughter is growing up in a different kind of city, in a different type neighborhood, in a different type of school than mine back in 1976 when I was seven years old.

I told her that the man was looking for food.

“Why doesn’t he go to a food kitchen?” she asked, thinking about all the sandwiches she’s made at school for the homeless over the years.

I explained that you can’t live in a food kitchen all of the time. And then I said something I haven’t said in ages: “There but for the grace of God, goes you, goes I.”

I learned these words from my Irish grandmother, Mary. Mary never said a bad thing about anyone. Other people’s business was none of her business. If she didn’t have anything nice to say, she just didn’t say anything at all. And most of all, There but for the grace of God . . .

My daughter understood. “We’re very lucky, mom.”

I agreed.

“Mom, maybe we should make some more sandwiches and bring them to the pantry,” she replies.

“Yes,” I say. My life is filled with so many graces. Mary Oliver wrote, “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

Little graces rise out of the darkness, tiny pinpricks of color and light. Without the darkness I would hardly notice them.