Morning Poem

Morning Poem

by Mary Oliver

Every morning

the world

is created

Under the orange

sticks of the sun

and heaped

ashes of the night

turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches –

and the ponds appear

like black cloth

on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.

If it is your nature

to be happy

you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination

alighting everywhere.

And if your spirit

carries within it

the thorn

that is heavier than lead –

if it’s all you can do

to keep on trudging –

there is still

somewhere deep within you

a beast shouting that the earth

is exactly what it wanted –

each pond with its blazing lilies

is a prayer heard and answered


every morning.

whether or not

you have ever dared to be happy,

whether or not

you have ever dared to pray.

Reminder: Are you practicing Elimination Communication?  Come by the drop-in parent-baby support group this Wednesday from 9:30 – 11 at Alma Education Space, 9:30 – 11!  More info can be found here: 


song for autumn

Song for Autumn  by Mary Oliver

In the deep fall

don’t you imagine the leaves think how

comfortable it will be to touch

the earth instead of the

nothingness of air and the endless

freshets of wind? And don’t you think

the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,

warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep

inside their bodies? And don’t you hear

the goldenrod whispering goodbye,

the everlasting being crowned with the first

tuffets of snow? The pond

vanishes, and the white field over which

the fox runs so quickly brings out

its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its

bellows. And at evening especially,

the piled firewood shifts a little,

longing to be on its way.

By the way, I updated the books in the sidebar — check them out!  Also, I’ll be hosting a table at Committed! Bridal Event this Friday for any engaged couples/interested brides- or grooms-to-be who want to come by for the party.  It is going to be a really fun event.  I’m going to wear my dancing shoes.   


a baby blessing remembered

A year ago we hosted a Welcome Baby Blessing for our then-9-month-old baby boy.  As we’ve rounded the bend to the one-year anniversary of that day, I find myself sneaking looks at these photos again with fresh eyes and a warm heart.

For some events, the stars align.  I remember thunderstorms were forecasted for that early Sunday in June and we didn’t have a contingency plan.  I didn’t want to settle for anything other than the circle of rocks next to the pond at our favorite Brooklyn park.  An hour before the event was to begin, the sun officially declared herself present and so did we, for a day of welcome, honoring, and community.

I love officiating all kinds of ceremonies, but Baby Blessings always have a unique energy that I appreciate — the unpredictable nature of the Baby of Honor on any given day is always a huge variable, not to mention the customary presence of lots of other kids, and, I think, a shared feeling among participants and guests of wanting something sweet and simple yet unique; something truly ceremonious and yet casual.  I love the presence of these paradoxes and the opportunity to somehow bridge them.

For our own baby, of course, stakes were high because naturally I was tempted to incorporate every single good idea I had ever produced in a Baby Blessing.  So, we did the kitchen sink approach — invited in some Hermann Hesse, a healthy dose of Shel Silverstein, some Velveteen Rabbit, some Mary Oliver, and of course, the Beatles for our little Blackbird.

It was colorful and homemade and long and sunny and lovely…and it went something like this:

smudging — the space; the kids holding their arms in the air and spinning; the homespun altar

josh and annie do what they do — play sweet tunes together in a sweet way

a little Rainer Maria Rilke to open our ears and hearts

homage to the four elements

Orlis’ mama-made baby quilt at the center of the altar

other objects of significance

the message-filled garland from our Commitment Ceremony 5 years ago

our Top 6 family values — honed just for the occasion

6 beloved friends and family members illustrating them with readings

a letter from orlis’ goddess mother

As I write this to you, I am aware of the importance of the day, and the words, and, simply, the importance of you.  I worry that the words will not be perfect.  And what a reminder that is, for me, about how much growing there is to do, always.  For the lesson that everything is perfect as it is, everything is perfect in its imperfection, is one that both deeply resonates with me and requires frequent re-learning.” — From dani’s letter (spoken like a true goddess mother)

our birth story

time capsule — an old suitcase becomes a treasure trove — he’ll open it in 12 years and find significant gifts galore!

we make a public commitment as parents — we get help from michael and he wears his Kippah

we ask a promise from the community

we send a word-wave prayer around the circle

we sing this little light of mine

we eat snacks and cupcakes.

As I think now, about that day, small moments stand out to me, and I hope they will continue to…that I’ll be able to share these photos with Orlis and conjure up the feelings that were present that day when we formally welcomed him.  The breeze in our midst, the emotion passing through all of us as we re-visited “authenticity” as told by the Velveteen Rabbit, everyone cuddled on quilts, the feeling of making a public promise, and these words: the lesson that everything is perfect as it is, everything is perfect in its imperfection, is one that both deeply resonates with me and requires frequent re-learning.  I remember the trees and the smudge smoke and the candles miraculously staying lit, and the joggers running by without a notion something important and sacred was happening just feet away from them.  I remember watching the Time Capsule being filled with gifts of meaning, knowing what a different boy he’ll be when he finally opens it.  And I remember the sound of everyone singing.

If you know anyone who lives in the greater Portland area who might be interested in having a Baby Blessing for their child, please pass this post along (email button below) or have them  contact me and mention the code, “Treelife Blog” to get a 10% discount if they book before Sept. 1st, 2012.  If you want to learn more about Baby Blessings by me, click here.