Ravished by the World

If you ever get sick and tired of the world,
remember that you are dying.
(We all are.)

Imagine you will die tomorrow.
Look around you now.
What do you see?
Miracles, everywhere.

The bark on the oak tree,
for instance,
is completely different
from the bark on the cedar
which in turn
could not be more different
than that on the pine.

Shaggy shingles overlapping,
dark and craggy braided rivers,
puzzle pieces interlocking:
how do such wonders happen?

And the seeds!  The seeds!
Acorns wearing miniature berets,
tiny split shells twirling down from the sky,
cones that need fire to open all the way.

Just one tree is miracle enough to contemplate
for a thousand years:

the movement of water into roots
the movement of sap up the trunk
the conversion of sunlight into sugar
the movement of sugar back to the roots

I am ravished by the world
and must ration myself to one miracle per day
otherwise I would do nothing
but stand outside, mouth open,
staring up into the trees.

Remembering we are dying
is a wonderful way to live.

How to Remember

The world will give you gifts if you pay attention:

A curl of red madrone bark,
fallen from the shiny surface
of the brilliantly colored tree.

Half of a tiny paper wasps’ nest,
wavy striations of white and gray
painstakingly arranged around a perfect circle.

A bird’s nest woven from pine needles
and lined with grass and lichen and moss.

Acorns whose caps fit exactly so,
each holding within it
the beginning of a giant oak.

A piece of maple bark drilled by woodpeckers,
the holes lined up with perfect precision.

Iridescent blue feathers from a Stellar’s jay,
and bright orange ones from a flicker.

A clump of moss and some blue-gray lichen;
most of the shell of a blue robin’s egg;
an owl pellet with tiny bones in;
bark from a pine and more from an oak,
each vastly different from the other.

If you watch carefully, all of these can be yours—
they land at your feet
every day.

What will you do with them?

Make an altar.

Place each item carefully,
considering its relationship
with all the others.

Each time you walk by,
let your eye land
on one small, perfect thing,
and think of how it was made.

Be astonished.
Be joyful and filled with gladness.

Then you will remember
(then you will re-member)
who you truly are
and why you are here
in this gorgeous and hurting world.