Living A Life

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This post is in honor of Mary Oliver, a poet beloved by many, who passed away last week. Her poems have provided me with endless insight and inspiration for living deeply in the midst of everyday life.

I’m also trying out a new format for this post. Exploring one idea a week has been my traditional format. For this post and possibly subsequent ones, I’d like to introduce multiple things that have been experienced and reflected upon over the week - each with its own important message to pass along to you.


I looked out my window this morning and saw this.


What immediately came to mind was the Christian symbol, the fish (Ichthys), the figure that appears as a chrome decal on the back of many cars around Southern Indiana.

There it was, drawn in light, resting in front of the Buddha. And Buddha, sitting calmly, blanketed by the snow and below freezing temperatures.

It was just a reflection. It was just a statue. And it was so much more than that.

It was a moment, presented to me, of light and shape and shadow. It was a gateway to something more, something that beckoned me to consider my Christian upbringing and Buddhist studies and the peaceful Is-Ness of it all.

It is what I chose to make of it.

And I chose to recognize the magic in that moment as I prepared my coffee cup and watched the light shift and the symbol drift away.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
— Mary Oliver



Many people ventured out a couple of nights ago to witness the eclipse of the super blood wolf moon. (In case you are curious, “super” because it was closer to earth than usual, “blood” because the reflected light turned the moon red, and “wolf” referring to the first full moon of the calendar year.)

It was fortunate that it was visible from our neighborhood and not cloudy that night. It was not so fortunate in that the temperatures were below 10 degrees F that night. Regardless, it was an opportunity that I wasn’t going to miss.

I ran in and out of our house every 10 minutes or so, gazing up at (and taking photos of) the ever-changing moon as it seemed to slowly fade away into the blackness…and then reappeared in full, deep reddish-orange glory. (My kids joined me for the final viewing around 11:40 p.m., giving a quick “oooh, pretty” before racing back into the warm house.)


As I scrolled through Facebook in between arctic dashes, I was enchanted by all of the photos appearing of the moon - the exact same moon that I was enjoying.

So many people, pausing in their evening routines, glancing up at the sky together. Sharing, if only for a moment, in the magic of mother nature. Sharing, if only for an hour or so, an experience of looking in the same place and appreciating the same thing.

I wish we had more of those moments.

Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed.
— Mary Oliver, Evidence: Poems



We had a snowstorm in Indiana this week that, though expected, surprised many with its quick onset and furious conditions. We had driven to a neighbor’s house for a gathering before the storm had started, and ended up having to abandon our car nearby there due to not being able to get up an already-icy hill.

It was only a 5 minute walk home, but it was a memory that won’t soon be forgotten.

There was no beginning or end to the roads and the yards. The only path we could take was to stay between the giant black trees that twisted in the blizzard winds, almost seeming to beckon us to hurry, hurry, this way, this way….

Each of us were within a few feet of one another for most of the trek, but the only thing we could hear was the sound of the wind, our own breathing, and the soft yet hurried crunching of our party shoes (not at all snow-friendly) in and out of the snow.

There was a silence that was both eerie and enchanting, and a mystery to this area that we thought we knew so well that was discomforting and enticing. It looked nothing like it had just a few hours ago. It felt nothing like it has before, experiencing it, as we did, naked to the elements instead of hidden behind doors and walls and windows.

It wasn’t a path we chose, but one we were given - and I’m deeply grateful for the experience.

I hope I remember this the next time I come across a path that at first glance is unwanted.

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.
— Mary Oliver
Lisa WilsonComment