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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Instructions for Living a Life

Instructions for Living a Life

pay attention
be astonished
tell about it

~ Mary Oliver

I have been sitting with this quote for a few weeks now as I sketch and doodle to come up with a piece of art on which to place these words for safe keeping.   I think they need to stay with me for a while.

As many of you can appreciate, I am compelled to be outdoors in recent days.  It was nearly impossible to take my early morning walks when ice and snow covered every pathway (and I did try a few times), and temperatures were dangerously cold.  There were not enough layers to make it possible.  Now that the thermometer is above freezing, that is enough for me.   I ventured out in the wind and the rain this morning to visit my favorite garden to see how the new life is coming along.  I have seen crocuses showing their brightest party faces these past couple of weeks.  However, today, they were all curled in on themselves for safety.  But, oh my, the Lenten Roses were abundant and they did not care about the wind and the rain.  They demanded to be noticed.  Pink and white blooms everywhere.

I continued onto the boardwalk and came to a stop with this image.

I tried to keep walking but I couldn't.  Something drew me to the reflection of the bare trees.  Dripping wet with no one else walking the area but me; and this just stopped me in my tracks.  I don't know why.  Maybe someone else does??  It will come to me.

So, I lived Mary Oliver's words today. I paid attention in the midst of seemingly unpleasant environmental circumstances, I was astonished and now I am telling about it.  Was has astonished you this week?  Have you told someone?  It may seem silly like the above very wet walkway but there is no defending of "astonishment".  It simply is what it is.

I send blessings of spring to each of you.  May you look beneath the surface to new life straining to be found.  May it astonish you.  May you tell about it.   Share it here if you like :) 


  1. Thank you Judy for this reflection on astonishment. When I saw the pictures of the barren trees reflected in the water on the boardwalk, I was instantly reminded of a poem I once wrote called, "Defiant Praise" where it talks about the trees in their winter barrenness continue to lift their branches in praise, showing the way to the light, even when it is cloudy, rainy or foggy - the trees defiantly lift their branches in praise. The pictures invited me to ponder the invitation to be a reflection of praise in all circumstances. A new phrase keeps running through my mind, "Come out of the pools of water, and reflect praise so the world can see the way to light and the source of all life."
    So thank you for this and the opportunity to ponder a new phrase, and reconnect with my poem "Defiant Praise."

    1. Perfect Michael! Yes and yes. Maybe that is why I enjoyed my rainy, no-one-else-around walk. I felt a bit defiant as if to say, "Yes, the weather is windy and rainy and no one else may think it a good day for a walk. But, the Lenten Rose accompanies me and the branches are in continual praise. It is a fine day for a walk." There are times I certainly do need to come out of the pools of water and remember to praise. Beautiful. Thank you.