For Mary O.

A thought moved through me on the eve of her passing, “I wonder how many days we have left with Mary O?” I didn’t know she was ill and I wasn’t sure of her age. I had planned to search the internet today, to resolve the wondering about her and her health. Then, this morning came the headline that Mary had died. I wept with sadness and I wasn’t surprised. Something in me knew she was leaving this life. This loss feels more potent than most. The world is less bright without Mary O.

Her words live in me and forever changed me. She taught me how to pay attention, to love the world, to listen deeply. She invited me to pause, to look up, to lean in. She awakened my curiosity and gave my creative life some direction. She showed me what mindfulness was long before it became trendy. Her writing deepened my relationship with the natural world. She modeled how to write as a way to remember, to put language to my connection with the every day sacred.

Photograph by    Angel Valentin   /The New York Times

Photograph by Angel Valentin/The New York Times

I wonder if she knows the ways her gifts touched the world. I wonder if she knows how many lives she saved. I wonder if she knows that her words helped save mine. Does she know that she sits on my Counsel of Wise Elders— that I turn to her voice for spiritual communion? Her poems are my guide for living with devotion. I wonder how many of us find solace in her words.

I touch her many books resting on my shelves, grateful for her legacy of poetry and prose and her mindful invitations to pay attention and be astonished. I imagine her stepping through the threshold of death with the same curiosity she carried in life. In answer to her own question, she didn’t simply visit this world. Her life’s work was a witness to the ordinary and the wonder, to love the beauty and the decay, and to show up daily with full embrace.

May she rest in knowing that her life touched ours. May her questions continue to work their magic. In Mary’s own words, I offer this blessing:

“There is so much to admire, to weep over.

And to write music or poems about.

Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
Bless touching.

May she always remember the sun on her face, the company of trees, the truth of wild geese. And may we always remember her, beloved Mary. Beauty forager. Asker of good questions. Companion to early mornings. Deep listener of the world.

Thank you for being a river of beauty and truth, for gracing us with your wise and generous voice. Thank you for speaking the language of gratitude and showing us how to show up and love the world. Thank for the gift of your one precious life. Thank you for reminding me to fully love and live mine.

It is raining outside and I can’t help but think how the world is grieving. Oh Mary, I’ll miss you. I will listen for you in birdsongs and trees. Your voice will forever live in the flight of wild geese.