A few months ago I was wrestling with some decisions I needed to make about my future. I was having a very difficult time discerning just what God would have me do. I shared my dilemma with my spiritual director who recommended I continue to pray about it. "And perhaps, " she said, "you could use a line of poetry as a mantra for your meditation." I was open to the idea--I already read a poem a day as part of my spiritual discipline. "Why don't you use the last line from one of Mary Oliver's poems," she said, "except make it in the first person plural: 'What will we do with my one wild and precious life.'" "We?" I asked. "Yes," she said, "You and God."
And so I did, for a month I used the abbreviated Oliver line as a mantra, repeating it over and over again in my meditation time. And finally, out of those mediations came the answer I needed to move ahead.
Mary Oliver died just this past month, on January 17. She will most certainly be missed. Her poems, often reflecting the natural world around her, have touched the lives of untold numbers of people in so many ways.
A dear friend of mine tells me that in Provincetown, Massachusetts, one of the places she loved the most, they are considering naming a street after her. Mary Oliver Way. An honor well deserved, and somehow most appropriate. For we would all do well to live the Mary Oliver way--attentive to the world around us, and appreciative of the great beauty and mystery it holds!