Yesterday, Parker Palmer shared a Mary Oliver poem on Facebook, which I read before the morning walk with the dog through the giant empty lot behind my building:
And, wouldn’t you know, there were, in fact, some weeds growing in a vacant lot. And, because Mary Oliver and Parker Palmer seem to me to be pretty overwhelmingly decent teachers, I decided to patch a few words of thanks together, and I was surprised where that other voice took me.
This defiant flower
commandeering this half-crack of concrete
declaring eminent domain
right of crumpled burger wrap
just left of wadded undershirt
growing in wisdom and in stature,
rooted in this rupture.
Like the dumpster
and the culvert
and the steep slope on the corner:
all of them cradling some artful being
startled to see me when I round the corner with my tiny, happy dog;
like the ICU block where I arrived to pray
with the family of a dying man
(a crass and ornery and dirty joking kind of man)
all of us folded into the unit
laughing at his old jokes as we waited
for him to commend his spirit and breathe his last.
Like the craggy mountain path I hiked,
(roots of pine clawing at the incline
treetops angled precariously but reaching up, anyway,
for sunlight and growing down, anyway,
when the family called
two days later
to say this old and dying man had pulled
another one over on them;
that he breathed breath after breath
refusing to commend anything to anyone,
electing instead to commandeer,
declaring even in that slim sliver of possibility
that we beings are inclined, it seems, to BE.