As I climb back into life again, following a period of poor health, I'm thinking about cycles of life and art and moon and stars and the land around us: the bright and the dark...the gentle and the cruel...the soft, sweet days and the days as hard as stone...the art that flies and the art that fails...the words that flow and words that choke...the physical strength that comes and goes. The seasons turn. The days roll by: we wake, we sleep, we wake again. Our lives are lived in cycles that take no notice of schedules, lists and plans, embedded as we are in larger turnings: the rising of the sap and the falling of the leaves; the rhythmic slap of water on the shore; the world breathing in and out, in and out, as we rise and fall, and rise once more.
"Illness is one of the Mysteries," says poet Marjorie Clarke. "I fear it. I respect it. I learn from it.''
I want to be fully present in this world; to move with its rhythms and not against them; to accept and respect the dark days too. To learn. To breathe. To fall and rise again. And again. And again.
And what else can we do when the mysteries present themselves
but hope to pluck from the basket the brisk words
that will applaud them,
the heron, the turtle, the catbird, the seed-grain
kneeling in the dark earth, its body
opening into the golden world?
- Mary Oliver (from "Mysteries, Four of the Simple Ones")
''Where is our comfort but in the free, uninvolved, finally mysterious beauty and grace of this world that we did not make, that has no price? Where is our sanity but there? Where is our pleasure but in working and resting kindly in the presence of this world?''
- Wendell Berry (from The Art of the Commonplace)