Catching the Spirit
I don’t notice the turtles until I hear the splashes,
just catching sight of two disappearing into the water.
The other, the biggest, still sits on the log, long striped neck
turned to watch me. A splash of raindrops makes the water
sparkle, and he is suddenly too beautiful to bear.
Well, I guess you do have ears to hear;
at least that’s something.
I am waiting at the river.
Do you come down each morning
to say hello, to sit and wait back at me,
to let me know I might trust you?
No. You are a tourist who charges by,
counting on a sight to tell the folks about
as you compare notes in the parking lot.
(I’ll bet you expect to catch the Holy Ghost
tomorrow too, your first Sunday back since Christmas.)
But we are not in the business of wonder-by-demand.
You ask for blessings, but have you prepared yourself
to be blessed? No, don’t answer.
I hear you muttering your to-do lists and counting your aerobic steps.
You want to be grabbed by the hair and swung to face amazement.
But we don’t work that way.
(Well, maybe sometimes we do. But who are you to count on it?)
His eyes never leave mine.
Two damselflies hover in the air between us.
I cannot stop myself; I take a quiet step toward him.
Instantly, he is gone, the loud splash his reproach and invitation.
I walk on, watching the ground carefully as hundreds of tiny peepers scatter before my feet.
by Joy Salyers, (c) 2006
I'm actually a bit on the fence about Mary Oliver. She is a wonderful crafter of words, and her poems about nature can provide a powerful entryway into a deeper level of relating to a very alive, active Universe. But if you stop with her poetry, you haven't quite gotten there yet, and I think too many people do just that -- read one of her pieces, sigh, and say, "Ah, that's so true!" without walking through the door she has opened to continue on a deeper journey that might actually change them.
However, I do like this poem, because it is SUCH an inviting doorway to the act of being present and the habit of joy. And in our culture, even noticing that door, let alone putting one's hand upon its lichen-encrusted knob, is a fairly revolutionary act. It's called "Mindful."
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