I Worried | Mary Oliver
Here’s a prose poem from Mary Oliver, written in her later years. My brief comments follow.
I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And I gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
© 2010 by Mary Oliver
Published by Beacon Press in Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
Ironically, I found this poem in the front pages of Katy Butler’s book, The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life. It seemed a strange way to begin a book that helps navigate end of life decisions. Are you tired of working on this or that document, or making choices about things that may or may not happen? Just go out into the morning, and sing whether you think you can sing or not!
Which is exactly what I’m learning to do. No, it doesn’t come naturally. Worry comes naturally, sometimes dressed up as Work I must accomplish today. Not for a paycheck, but perhaps to ensure my peace of mind?
Yet even all the completed medical and other documents duly signed and filed in their appropriate places can never ensure full peace of mind. Sometimes I need to get outside my list-driven environment, enjoy the day and sing.
A calm mind. Most appropriate in a distressed world over which we have limited control.
Happy Monday to each of you, with a prayer for those living in distress this day and night, and calm courage to reach out as we’re able.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 September 2019
Photo found at pixabay.com
I love this poem! Reminds me of a picture of a bridge over a river that changed it’s course. It’s no longer flowing under the bridge! We worry ourselves over what we cannot control. But when God changes the river we need to follow. We’re thinking of making that photo our theme for next year. Mary Oliver’s poem might make an appearance! Love, Natalie
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Yay! You say it so well, Natalie. Thanks so much for the wonderful comment. 🙏🏻
Reminds me of my mother, Madge’s end of life….so peaceful and promising!
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Thanks, Judy! It sounds like your mother found a way to deal with her anxieties. It’s easy to say “What’s done is done (or not done).” It more difficult (I think) to let it go, and enjoy the gifts all around us.