Holy Looking

A poem by Mary Oliver:


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 is one of my favorite poets. She is a nature mystic – one who sees the sacred in every face of the natural world. When I read her poetry I remember what is true, so often and easily forgotten. Humility graces me when I remember my true place.

In this poem, we are reminded of the holy power of attention. A simple choice of where to look and how to look is available to us in each moment. We shift our attention away from distractions and the busy workings of the mind toward any small or great gift from nature. A space opens up in us and we gain entry into the quiet place where prayer is discovered.

Try This

Go for a walk this week and, when you are moved to do so, stop and bring your attention to any aspect of nature that catches your eye. Let your mind settle down and open to the deep stillness at your core. Then let your heart speak its truth and listen for the voice of wisdom.