"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Friday, October 9, 2015

Vashonista Celebration


Who made the world?
Who made the swan and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver.

For five days at the beginning of this month, a group of six bloggers met for our fourth annual gathering at Lavender Hill Farm on Vashon Island. For the first time we were all retired, and so we decided to meet longer and to use the time to write. The magic that happened during those days as we responded to prompts and allowed stories to emerge from our depths is hard to describe. As a way to celebrate that time, we decided to share our last writing in each of our blogs, and to link so that you, our lovely readers, can see what different and powerful responses a prompt can evoke. We followed Pat Schneider's AWA method as explained in her book Writing Alone and With Others.

Our facilitator (me - what a joy that was!) read Mary Oliver's The Summer Day out loud, and the group responded to the question that ends the poem. We had ten minutes to write by hand the pieces you'll read, and we will all have done some revision before publishing on our blogs. You can read their responses here: Sandi, Jann, Linda, DJan, Sally. My response is below. 


What do I plan to do with my one wild and precious life? 

I plan to be as fully awake as I can be and to bear witness to a life of joy earned through both suffering and grace. 

I plan to sing in full voice, not with my mouth, not in haunting melody or joyous carol, but through my writing. 

I plan to seek Divinity in the face of every person who crosses my path. I plan to let my light radiate and encircle and heal. 

I plan to seek both the wild and the precious in the birds of the air - my beloved bald eagle appearing out of nowhere, hummingbirds hovering before my face, robins ringing in the seasons. I will soak in the wild and the precious in sea breezes, sun filtering through brilliant fall leaves, the delight of the juice of a freshly picked apple exploding in my mouth. 

I plan to continue to seek beauty in the mundane, the painful, the broken and ugly. 

I plan to breathe gratitude deeper and deeper into my body, and to release it back into the world through my eyes, my smile, and whatever words are given to me to express all that's wild and precious.


Linda Myers said...

I am engraced.

DJan said...

Sorry to have been the last to get my post up, but I relied on Blogspot's automatic system, and it didn't work I love this idea, Deb, of having this final prompt up for us all to savor and share! :-)

Sandi said...

Lovely, so lovely. Perhaps the greatest praise might be, "I wish the words you wrote would come to me as easily!" Loved re-reading, and loved the retreat. Thank you so much for facilitating our wild and crazy Vashonistas!

#1Nana said...

The last line is my favorite, but it is all lovely. I am grateful to have you in my life!

Sally Wessely said...

This is just as magical and lovely today as it was when I heard you read it. It is wonderful to read your deep reflective thoughts. Keep on writing.

Linda Myers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Beautifully said. We write to touch others, and you touched me.

Linda Reeder said...

I have now read all six of the Vashonista's responses to this prompt. They are all so different, and leave me wondering what I would have written. I may have to give it a try.

Gammary said...

There you are! So happy you had a great time on Vashon. Love this prompt as well as all the responses. Our life is our ultimate creative composition....and we get better and better at it as we grow older and wiser. ❤️

Barb said...

To find grace, beauty, and spirit in yourself and your surroundings - a wonderful way to continue a life, Deb.

b+ (Retire In Style Blog) said...

As I read each of the groups words I could only think that what you are planning is what you are living. The future is right within view. In fact, it is now. Thank you for sharing.


Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Deb, your words are so beautiful and so powerful they astonish me. Every time. You are already living according to your plan, and what could be better than that?

yaya said...

Sometimes I hear folks speaking of retirement with fear and confusion and a sense of losing themselves because they won't have their work to define them. When I read your words I'm filled with anticipation and joy and the feelings I had as a youth embarking on a great adventure! Your words inspire and uplift and are the perfect ending to this day for me....thanks and I'll look forward to visiting your blog buddies to read their perspective on the prompt!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

"I will soak in the wild and the precious in sea breezes, sun filtering through brilliant fall leaves, the delight of the juice of a freshly picked apple exploding in my mouth."

I believe that says it so well. I admire your calm. I wish I could channel that.

And, I am most jealous of that group of you who meet on Vashon. If ever you let someone new in, please let me know.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

"I will soak in the wild and the precious in sea breezes, sun filtering through brilliant fall leaves, the delight of the juice of a freshly picked apple exploding in my mouth."

I wrote a comment, but it didn't go through. Will try to reconstruct.

What a perfect choice on your part to bring this Mary Oliver poem as a writing prompt. I currently spend much time deciding how I want to spend the rest of my life. Took a while to switch to that perspective. I love these lines of yours I've highlighted as it provides such good measure for how to approach each day.

Very jealous of this group of you who meet each year. If ever you decide to add another, let me know.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Having been away from posting and reading many blogs I must say I miss it and yours especially. For some reason your words seem to parallel mine but at an earlier time in my past. Still retirement is a place that haunts me more than I thought. Sure there's a new time for new things and I get to experience lots but there is an underlyim
Ng new reality that life has just become much shorter than before. That dream of retirement to be set free fron routines , to live at a different schedule has brought an uneasiness and worries. Aging is tougher than I thought:(
I am happy though to learn from others that we can share and help each other along this payh. Thanks for caring and sharing.