And this is what I learned: that the world’s otherness is antidote to confusion, that standing within this otherness–the beauty and the mystery of the world, out in the fields or deep inside books–can re-dignify the worst-stung heart.
~ Mary Oliver
Bird song enters my home through two different windows. Their music-making reminds me of the world’s otherness that Mary Oliver speaks of. Even though I know at the very basic level all is one, it is in knowing that there are many that lights my soul and warms my heart.
There is a world out there to build a relationship with. And it can be a deep connection with everything or simply seeing everything as useful. Our modern world tends to see things, animals and even people in terms of their usefulness. But this is damaging to our soul.
To be immersed in nature or books allows us to connect to the other and therefore ourselves. Since all is connected there is no real difference. But sometimes it is easier to come into relationship with someone or something out there than it is to connect to ourselves.
We may have worst-stung hearts as Mary Oliver puts it. Pain can make us want to run from ourselves. Nature or books can provide the nourishment that makes us strong enough to look within. When we no longer feel alone, we are able to discover that we never were.
Take a few moments to commune with the flowers in your garden or the trees on your street. They know when we’re paying attention. They are alive and have a soul. We feed them with our attention and they feed us with their wisdom.
Or maybe books are more your thing. Spend some time between the pages of your favorite tales. Get inside a story or a poem and know its comfort. Books are our companions and gateways into relationship with the other. Once you spend enough time with one particular piece of writing, it becomes a part of you forever. And you have changed it by brining your own heart and soul to it.
There is power in connecting with the world around us. But sometimes we’ve been too hurt by people and so find it easier to begin with nature or books. Our lives are made richer by gathering otherness to us and becoming one with those words or that grand old oak. Their branches of meaning or leaves can reach into our soul if we let them.
Learning to Live