tinker with text
Literacy-Based Maker Education
*This is a tribute to Mary Oliver (poet, professor, Pulitzer Prize winner, observer of life) on the day of her passing.
I live close to a creekside trail that I often walk along with my dog. The creek and trees, as well as the parks and ponds along the way, attract many birds. As Canada Geese would fly overhead, honking out their arrival or departure, Mary Oliver's poem "Wild Geese" would come to mind:
This poem has always held special meaning for me. I love the way Oliver intertwines the descriptions of nature with the landscape of our hearts.
A few years ago, I was going through a difficult time - too many changes, disappointments, and losses. I was feeling very lonely, and wondered about my place in "the family of things." It was hard for me to see the world offering itself to me in an exciting way. At the time, I felt only harshness.
In the spring of the next year, I began to hear a different bird's call. There are also many quail (a small, woodland game bird resembling a partridge) in this region. I heard a staccato call on my walks that I assumed was the quails’. It was a short-short-long, ti-ti-ta rhythm, like that which I had learned as a child in music class. My sub-conscious filled in the words almost automatically. "Who are you? Who are you?"
As the earth came back to life, so did I and I heard a new message in the birds' call, "God loves you, God loves you." Turns out, it wasn’t the quail at all. The bird that makes that sound is literally the harbinger of peace - the dove. There are actual doves in the trees here and they sing of God’s love to me. I laugh at the extravagance and magnificence of that! It amazes me still.
Wherever you are and whoever you are, we each have a place in this world. And the clear pebbles of rain, the deep trees, the wild geese, and the doves are all calling out a message to you and me.
Thank you, Mary Oliver, for your gift of words to the world. They have brought me to tears and joy and deep contemplation over and over again. You made a difference with your “wild and precious life.”
Vicki Den Ouden is an Elementary Reading Intervention Teacher from BC, Canada. She loves to dream, learn, teach, and create.