The Uses of Sorrow | Mary Oliver
Have you ever dreamed a poem? Here’s one from Mary Oliver. Short and to the point. My comments follow.
The Uses of Sorrow
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
© 2006 by Mary Oliver
Poem found in Thirst, p. 52
Published by Beacon Press
I first read Mary’s dream poem several years ago, then hurried on to the next page. I didn’t want to think about it. How could a box full of darkness be a gift?
In German, “das Gift” means poison. In some ways this blog was my way of beginning to take ‘das Gift’ seriously. When I began blogging, I agonized over what to say and how to say it. What was in my “box full of darkness,” and who gave it to me? Or, better put, who passed it on to me so that it became My Problem?
Sorrow isn’t a throw-away event, or series of events. As Mary Oliver says in the title, sorrow has its uses.
Nonetheless, real life doesn’t usually invite us to see a box full of sorrow as a true gift. Instead, we’re supposed to play the game ‘their way’ because that’s what the box of darkness is about. Put another way: It perpetuates the angst and anger of generations, without recognizing or fighting today’s poison. Easier all round for everyone, right?
Wrong. Understanding ‘das Gift’ as a true gift to be explored was and still is dangerous. Beginning to investigate the past brings an avalanche of consternation, anger, tears, honesty and humility. It dares me to turn my so-called gift into light. The kind that illuminates truth and empowers me to be the woman I am.
At this age, I’m still finding ‘stuff’ not yet examined from the box of poison passed on to me as a child and young adult. However, when I’m willing to step back and take a deep breath, I’m also able to take one more step in the right direction. For better and for worse, being in my elderly years means I have lots of material to work with, whether I like it or not.
Thanks again for stopping by. I’m doing quite well most days. Especially when I follow my heart instead of my head or my forever-lists of things to ‘do.’
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 February 2022
Image found at pinterest.com