Starlings in Winter

Starlings in Winter
by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

Oh, Mary Oliver, you touch my heart again. Feeling. Longing. Wanting. Desire. My friend Desire, warms me. Yes, these are expressions of Love knowing Love. This poem evokes the sense of wonder and awe of being surrounded by the Infinite, everywhere – a sensitivity to the arrangement of beauty that brings me closer than close to the experience of total contentment. Time lost, pausing in amazement, beholden by the mystery and magic of intimacy, which at its core is so simple and available. Like the most tender touch of a Lover, deep acceptance of being totally naked, safe, complete and recognizing the formless forms of Awareness.

Richard Rohr, the Franciscan mystic says “We were made by Love to Love”. When we are completely seen by another, there is the collapse of unique selves- intimacy. Love is here. God cannot not love God in us. Perhaps, the eternal covenant we experience is the birth of ourselves in the image and likeness of God.

My mind dimly holds onto grief and I’m glad for Mary Oliver’s reminder that it is both still around and yet no longer a strong attachment. She is so non-judgmental and with loving kindness says, “I am thinking now of grief, and getting past it…” It’s all ok.

The best part of this poem is the end.
“I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”

Reminds me of “The Layers” poem, sited here in another blog post. Live in the layers not on the litter. To think again of dangerous and noble things requires a bit of courage and risk taking. Could this be the masculine energy emerging? (The blessing of a teacher holds wonder and awe!) I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing as though I had wings. This is me. Now.

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