Mary Oliver died yesterday and my day was spent largely in reflection of her impact on my life and my work as an artist. I was first introduced to Oliver’s work at a class with a beloved teacher, which was set on the edges of a tidal river, where we wrote imperfect poetry and built wobbly cairns in the river’s muddy bottom revealed at low tide.
Like almost all who meet an Oliver poem, i was deeply touched by her ability to turn the mundane and ordinary into the sacred and divine. Weaving the temporal world into heavenly everlasting (or at least long lasting) prose.
She accompanied me into dives into the darkest waters not to abandon me to the whims of a binary world but to lift me out, by teaching me to string my own words into a path of wholeness with this natural world. And it was on those ordinary walks that I found myself able to float back up from the depths, with Mary’s and nature’s gentle nudging.
As I pulled books to read her poetry yesterday, a book on Wabi Sabi (for artists and poets) also asked to be seen. I didn’t think much of it but opened it to read the first page, the first lines
Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
It is the beauty of things modest and humble.
It is a beauty of things unconventional.
Oliver wrote of the ephemeral in such a sublime way that it conveyed a sacredness that was both untraditional and unconventional. She unapologetically observed and wrote of the beauty of this glorious earth, reminders to heed and take notice of this fleeting world, for it truly is.