lily

Lily, The Perfect Prayer

The Lily

Night after night
darkness
enters the face
of the lily
which, lightly,
closes its five walls
around itself,
and its purse
of honey,
and its fragrance,
and is content
to stand there
in the garden,
not quite sleeping,
and, maybe,
saying in lily language
some small words
we can’t hear
even when there is no wind
anywhere,
its lips
are so secret,
its tongue
is so hidden –
or, maybe,
it says nothing at all
but just stands there
with the patience
of vegetables
and saints
until the whole earth has turned around
and the silver moon
becomes the golden sun –
as the lily absolutely knew it would,
which is itself, isn’t it,
the perfect prayer?

~ Mary Oliverthe lily

Oh, how I love Mary Oliver and her tremendous ability to weave language and nature and wisdom into a braid of enlightenment.

Her poetry always appears when I need it, whispering to me to pay attention – to be here, now.

Mary Oliver makes me think – makes me work for it. I slide her words around my mouth, swallowing bit after bit of understanding until suddenly, it makes perfect sense.

The ‘patience of vegetables and saints’ – yes, yes, yes.

The perfect prayer.

The realization that I, too, can “lightly” close myself, wind up my thoughts and pain and joy inside and just be content to be here, now, with them, whispering solitary prayers for peace and hope and grace and courage… and patience. Breath. Calm.

And the deep, deep knowing that all will be well.

The blooms spring up overnight, gracing me with their glory, their fragility, and their contentment to just be, to grow, to bloom “until the whole earth has turned around and the silver moon becomes the golden sun.”

One day at a time.

One prayer at a time.

Thank you, Mary Oliver.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Beauty, The Brave, The Exemplary, Blazing Open

daffodils

This week El Nino backed off, and the sun smiled on us with 70 degree days. Everywhere I went, the violets popped their purple and white heads, the daffodils unfurled into yellow trumpets heralding spring, and the finches and flickers and chickadees flock to the feeder in glorious song. It’s hard not to think about spring, and the emergence of new life just below the surface.

birds at feeder

Oh, this world. This humble and silky life. Thank you, Mary Oliver, for reminding me to fill my arms with flowers, to be wild, and  that “there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary, blazing open” trusting the journey to spring .

Peonies by Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary, blazing open.

Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

~ Mary Oliver

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Pay Attention

Bastard-Schwertlilie (Iris spuria), Schwertlil...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It doesn’t have to be the blue iris,

it could be weeds in a vacant lot,

or a few small stones;

just pay attention,

then patch

a few words together and

don’t try to make them elaborate,

this isn’t a contest

but the doorway

into thanks,

and a silence in which

another voice may speak.

~Mary Oliver, “Praying”

I’ve shared Mary Oliver poetry before…I love, love, love her poetry, and this one seemed such a simple reminder.

Pay attention, be silent, listen, look up.

Take a moment to notice the beauty all around us. Pay attention.

All you need is already inside you – just look for it.

This post was inspired by writealm.com’s prompt-a-day for September |inside me|

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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What Is Prayer?

These months of spring and early summer shared their beauty and their pain, their hope for new beginnings and the sadness of lives ended-some with grace and dignity of a life well-lived, and some with the tragedy of a life not-yet-fully lived. For me, I find prayer in poetry, in words of writers who speak the words in my mind that cannot find their way to the page. Thank you, Mary Oliver, for your gifts so eloquently shared. Thank you for your prayer.
fields in Davis, CA
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 down 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
Poetry is prayer. With these words, I remember those who have moved on from this ‘wild and precious life’, saying a prayer for those they left behind. Dear reader, what is prayer to you? Where do you go to find comfort?
This post was inspired by writealm.com’s prompt-a-day for July.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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My Best Life, April 2014: Endings and Beginnings

April…a flash of a month, a month of endings and beginnings, of rain, snow, moving home and moving forward. April left me full of memories, moments flashing back too fast to catch my breath. Even my sister begged me to stop posting all those tender snatches of childhood that made our eyes fill with tears and our hearts fill with love. April was a month of decisions for the future, a few turning points and some joyous celebrations, all wrapped up into a big, gooey mush pot of emotion. It kind of wore me out, actually.

My Best April:

Best Quotes:

I kept Twitter busy in April! I love Twitter for the educators I connect with, for the access to news and so many points of view, but lately I’ve just loved reading quotes. Trying to sort through the endings and beginnings in my life right now, somehow reading and posting the #quoteoftheday has helped smooth the jagged edges. I’d love to tweet with you-follow me here!

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” -Anais Nin

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

“You are not your bank account, or your ambitiousness. You’re not the cold clay lump with a big belly you leave behind when you die. You’re not your collection of walking personality disorders. You are spirit, you are love.” ~Anne Lamott

“For bringing us together and keeping us laughing and having fun” – Richard O”Brien Memorial Award

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Theodor Seuss Geisel

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you cant practice any other virtue consistently.” – Maya Angelou

Best Poem:

April was National Poetry Month, and some of my favorite teaching moments came with my students sharing poetry that was meaningful to  them, and then presenting ‘snippets’ of poems in our very first Poetry Slam. I was so thrilled that several students chose to share Mary Oliver poetry – her gentle words so often reflect exactly what I cannot express myself. This month, I was dazzled by “Live A Life of Amazement” – if you haven’t read it before, it will dazzle you, too.

Best Blog Reads:

My dear friend Michelle has dedicated her career to helping children-not as a teacher anymore, although that is how we met twenty-something years ago. Michelle shares her compassionate and caring spirit with children who are victims of abuse. A gifted writer of prose and poetry, Michelle shares her beautiful words of comfort and hope in her blog, Metamorphosis: Musings on Healing and Transformation. Take a moment to read her post “Going on a Treasure Hunt” where she explores the metaphor of life as a journey.

This month has been all about the college decision in my house, and Frank Bruni’s article “Our Crazy College Crossroads” came at just the right time to help me remind all the high school seniors hanging around my house that their worth is NOT determined by their acceptance letters, and their ‘dashed hopes’ attached to a rejection letter should, in reality, be seen as an opening for the possibilities yet to come.

Best Photos:

C science experiment

He’s home! Never a dull moment when C is in the house!

Spring is here, finally! The end of ski season brings the beginning of a new, brilliant burst of color and life. My garden is exploding!

L pole vault

I just love this photo my sister took…it reminds me of my girl’s courage and fearlessness. Just look at the size of that pole!

My girl has been an athlete for most of her life, winning awards and achieving her goals. But this month, the most memorable moment for us came when she won the Richard O’Brien Memorial Award, for her ability to inspire her ski team, to bring them together and to have fun. This award represents everything we ever hoped she would learn from athletics-and from life.

Best Moments:

Endings and beginnings. My best moments last month were bittersweet; the ending of winter term at Sugar Bowl Academy brought my boy home. The ending of ski season brought great results and excitement for the beginning of next season, and the end of racing for one of mine. Beginnings of the last quarter of the school year, beginnings of spring erupting in my garden, and beginnings of searching for college dreams.

L and C ski race at Alpine Meadows
L and C ski race at Alpine Meadows

April, a month of endings and beginnings. And as Meister Eckhart so eloquently taught us, “…suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

Wishing you great possibilities and the magic of beginnings in May – and as always, thank you for supporting mamawolfe. I’d love to connect with you on Instagram and Facebook, too!

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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