When Death Comes – by Mary Oliver… (or really how to live your life!)

When death comes

like the hungry bear in autumn;

when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

when death comes

like the measle-pox

when death comes

like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:

what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything

as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,

and I look upon time as no more than an idea,

and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common

as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,

tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something

precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,

or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

Mary Oliver

The Art of Solitude

I live a hectic life, full of people and places to be. It was not always this way. Growing up as I did at the edge of an Irish country estate, in it’s former gate house, I was far away from school friends but that didn’t appear to matter a huge amount. I spent much of my days reading or in “my” woods, wandering freely for miles on my own.

Somewhere in between that time and now, life happened. Sometimes, the noise and business was necessary, because then I drowned out pain, hurt, rejection or loneliness. Sometimes it was necessary because if I allowed myself to be still, I would meet who I really was, and for so many years, it was easier to run than face that lack of perfection. But that was exhausting, and learning to love myself was, in the end, easier.

Now, I am happiest when with my family or my close friends, those who inspire & encourage me. Yet, still, I am finding that solitude is returning slowly, gently, peacefully. It’s a choice I make because my spirit longs for it. My journal always helps; it is as vital to me as breathing now.. But over the last few days the message of solitude, refuge, retreat has been so clear that I’m going to take myself off for a few days to allow myself to fully connect with all that I am so that I can be all I can be.

This will be difficult for me, and was something I may not have done. My diary is already full, while I have other demands not yet fitted in, I feel guilty leaving others – and I have hardly ever been on my own, silent, in so many years that I can’t imagine how I will cope with it. And then, I read this perfect poem…

It is a difficult
lesson to learn today,
to leave one’s friends
and family and deliberately
practise the art of solitude
for an hour or a day
or a week.
For me, the break
is most difficult….

And yet, once it is done,
I find there is a quality
to being alone that is
incredibly precious.

Life rushed back into the void,
more vivid,
fuller than before.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh