If you have not been enchanted by this adventure—your life—what would do for you?
I have a morning ritual that includes reading a poem from Mary Oliver’s collection Devotions. Each poem brings me to God everywhere. You, too, I assume. Aren’t we grateful that she walked the earth, literally, with notebook in hand? Aren’t we all the better individually and collectively because of her?
Mary Oliver passed away on January 17. Where she is, what she is, now, is an exquisite mystery. What we have of her, joyfully, are her words and how they impact us. What we have of her is this impatient demand to become enchanted by life while we have it. The poem is “To Begin With, The Sweet Grass,” which cracks open everything.
I share this, too, as best I can. Inside me—inside all of us, I presume—is a happening nearly impossible to describe. I experience it as a formidable infinitesimal fluttering and also a swelling. It is triggered when I near the radiant edge of what it means to be alive. Clearly, it is not a thing I can describe, but she can, in her characteristically unfussy, ever-wise way: the witchery of living.
The witchery of living
is my whole conversation
with you, my darlings.
Yes. Yes! She makes it seem so easy. It is the whole conversation. It is the whole of everything. It is what we experience when the self is sizzled by magic. It is what we experience when we read her poetry. It is what we experience when we allow ourselves to become enchanted by this adventure, our life.
Ms. Oliver’s question is a rhetorical one to ponder. If we aren’t bewitched, why not? What would it take?