What Gorgeous Thing
by: Mary Oliver
I do not know what gorgeous thing
the bluebird keeps saying,
his voice easing out of his throat,
beak, body into the pink air
of the early morning. I like it
whatever it is. Sometimes
it seems the only thing in the world
that is without dark thoughts.
Sometimes it seems the only thing
in the world that is without
questions that can't and probably
never will be answered, the
only thing that is entirely content
with the pink, then clear white
morning and, gratefully, says so.
Mary Oliver doesn't need to understand beauty. Instead, she's simply content to experience it without floundering around for explanation or comprehension. There's no need to know what Impressionism is to appreciate van Gogh's Starry Night. And you don't have to play piano to be moved by Chopin or Debussy. Beautiful things exist, and, as long as you have ears and eyes and nose and tongue, you can appreciate them without a critical filter.
It's been another couch day of coughing and nose-blowing and headaching. I watched Steven Spielberg's new film The Fabelmans, which was fantastic. This evening, I led a poetry workshop that lasted a couple hours. Now, I'm pretty exhausted.
What has gotten me through this weekend are moments of grace. Melting icicles. Books of poetry. Movies. Messages from friends and family. All these things I received without earning them. They just happened. Frozen water. Beautiful words from beautiful writers. Images that move. Kindnesses from people who care about me.
That's the way grace works. You don't work for it or buy it. Grace is just something that enters your life and makes it better. Like the words of the bluebird in Oliver's poem. Oliver has no idea what they mean, and she doesn't need to. She just listens to them. Gratefully.
I've been graced these last few days as I've struggled with my health. Gorgeous grace amid all the snot and aches and barks. It doesn't take much to turn a rotten day into a not-so-rotten day. As Oliver points out, it can be as simple as birdsong in the pink and white light of morning. Or a draft of a new poem scribbled in my notebook. Or watching a good movie with my partner in life.
In all of this, Saint Marty's job has been simple: accept it and be grateful.
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