Gratitude, by Mary Oliver
“What did you notice?” When normalcy is turned upside down, or when we’re faced with the unfamiliar, we tend to notice more. People with whom I’ve been speaking this past week have expressed a range of feelings—fear, anxiety, concern, uncertainty. But the word I hear most often is gratitude. Gratitude for what they have, paired with a recognition that many have less to be thankful for. For Mary Oliver, it is nature, not abnormality, that prompts a sense of wonder and thanks. And no matter how hard we may be working, confinement evokes a different sense of pace, not unlike nature’s magnetism which slows us down.
Without the bustle of speeding from one place to another, we have time to ask ourselves, What do I notice? What astonishes me? What is really going on? I read Mary Oliver’s poem and am chastened to make time to be sensitive to what is, not what might be or might have been, but that which is present to me, to us. Life is full of little things that grow in ripeness as we are attentive to them. The poem is a kind of call and response. Attend to the little things that call to you and evoke a sense of gratitude. And try, for today at least, to ask yourself each of the questions in turn.
Todd Breyfogle, Denver, Colorado