I woke up this morning agog. Alive in gratitude, openness, and grace (yes each beginning letter is part of that eye opening made-up acronym, though I don’t usually do that sort of thing). When you look up the word “agog”, the definition “very eager or curious to hear or see something” will appear. Almost as if the reader were “very eager or curious . . . to see something”.
When taken “seriously”, or rather, earnestly, what a way to start out the day! But what a curiously forgetful lotus-eating event happens the moment I wake up and find myself chained to the rowing benches of my usual mindset: “What do I have to do today . . . will I get it done in time . . . will it be good enough? That sounds tiring.” O.K. reverse. Back to the alarm, or the sun, or whatever woke me up.
“I wonder what will unfold today? What surprises? What delights? Of course, I’m good enough, but will I be able to remain awake enough to see what perks up or peeks open?” That’s better. Agog. Alive with Gratitude, Openness, and Grace. That’s what I wish to be. Maybe you do, too . . .
The other night, deep in the darkness of my nylon tent, deep in the depths of a summer night, camping along the Hood Canal, I felt afraid. There were many things that night that felt like sudden spinning stars plunging into the cold depths of a frigid sky that I had no control over- you know the ones: the health issues of a loved one, financial stress, the slow dying of a friend, and, as I lay trembling in my interiors,I felt the dark night of the soul slowly eclipsing the dark night of the sky in a thick molasses. As these thoughts crawled up and over my body, I remembered a quote by Mary Oliver from her poem, “Wild Geese”: “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
Those words sank in deeper and deeper. I noticed that soon, very soon, I became soft and supple inside. I know what that looks like- what that feels like. “The soft animal of my body”- the simple, tender rhythm of being alive, just alive. Not working out the solutions to all of the conundrums in my world. Not even pondering, problem-solving, or even praying in this case. But letting the tender, tethered parts of me that belong to this world, have their place here. To be coddled by the earth. Caressed by the cool-scented night wind. To find comfort in the simplicity of my own skin, my own being, “the soft animal of my body.” And to let it “love what it loves”. Which now is sleep. Simplicity. Gentle rest.
What does “the soft animal of your body” need today? How can you let it “love what it loves”?
This time of year, we tend to cross thresholds. Children leave through our front doors for kindergarten or college, and anything in between. Summer melts away into preparations for fall. And the adjustments in our own interiors can feel like both loss and release. Here is a poem I wrote that reminds me to cross the most intimate threshold with courage- the one inside ourselves.