Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Moths - March 31, 2010

There's a kind of white moth, I don't know

what kind, that glimmers

by mid-May

in the forest...

If you notice anything,

it leads you to notice

more and more...

I was always running around, looking

at this and that.

If I stopped

the pain

was unbearable.

If I stopped and thought, maybe

the world

can't be saved,

the pain was unbearable.

Finally, I had noticed enough.

All around me in the forest

the white moths floated.

How long do they live, fluttering

in and out of the shadows?

You aren't much, I said

one day to my reflection

in a green pond,

and grinned.

The wings of the moths catch the sunlight.

and burn

so brightly...

Mary is watching the moths, and who is noticing us? Who looks at us as so short lived, burning so brightly, and nurtured in the sweet abundance of the world out of which we metamorphosed? I could answer this that we humans notice one another, but is there not a greater Watcher? Life itself? And of course I ask, are we not life itself? The mirror held up to the sun?

If I don't notice my reflection in the pond, the pain can be unanswerable for I want to run around saving everything. When I slow down, and over the long years this has come somewhat naturally, I notice more and more that there perhaps isn't anything to save, only to notice. No action needed other than a grin, a smile.

In the movie, The Thin Red Line, the hero sees a baby parrot bombed out of a tree and says:

"Why is it that one man looks at a dying bird and sees unanswerable pain. Another man looks at the same birds and feels the glory, feels a smile shining through."

Where do you see your reflection in the world around you and what is your response to seeing yourself in the world? What do you notice today that you might not have noticed years before?


  1. From T: The part of the poem I immediately saw is "You aren't much, I said, one day to my reflection...and grinned". This is exactly something I would do! I think that believing you aren't much is a weight lifted, hence the grin.

    And one more thing:her "running around, looking at this and that" I immediately thought of as a wonderful "Mary Oliver out in nature again" kind of thing, 'til I re-read it and it reminded me of all that busy-ness that distracts us when we try to meditate - or all those little tiny errands and thoughts that fill up our days and effectively distract us from living. Noticing is one thing...running around noticing sort of has a different flavor(?)

    LoraKim, I love your comment that "perhaps there isn't anything to save, only to notice." Reminds me of Rilke, creating things (and incidentally, "god") by noticing the "things" that god created. And re-creating the beginning of the world through noticing.

  2. I have reduced the 'saving the world' to one person at a time. For example, a couple years ago when my most frequent visitor and helper was given a BB gun and he proudly told me he had been able to hit a cardinal. I reacted with a lesson on cardinals, they're good traits and my love of them. I helped him make a cardboard target. When the robins went through this year he brought me an older boy who I had not seen for months. He asked me to tell this boy how I loved birds and he should use a target with his 22, which I did along with a lesson on robins and how they were migrating. He reported that he only killed two and he and his mother ate them. Upon further inquiry I learned that his mother had lost her job and that was the first meat he had had since she lost it. I let him off the hook and asked if his mother had visited the food bank in town, etc.. A growing high-schooler does need some protein. I suggested beans might be a good substitute. What I taught the younger one, he taught the older one. This ripple effect is something I have not noticed in the past.

    The pain is still there, but I find that I do not need to run around trying to fix things. Just noticing with a grin is enough.
    I love watching my neighborhood children as they grow and learn. Yesterday I had five children of several ages to watch. Three had reports to do. My computer was busy. All learned all three topics. They helped each other. The youngest got instruction in printing only the part of an article that she wanted, not fifteen pages. My artistic one folded an index card into a pyramid for the other one doing Egypt. We are animals interconnected to the larger universe. If these children can learn about environmental conservation and the needs of people in other areas of the earth, perhaps there is hope. I have faith in our younger generation as they go through the 'fixing it all' part of their lives.