The Growing Dark

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The moon was new at 3:42 am here, adding to the darkness of these days that shorten with the approach to the Solstice, just over a week away. A yoga friend posts bravely to Facebook, imagining the possibility of her own mortality and how it will affect her children. Vital conversations with another yoga friend affirm the inseparability of loss and new life, of sorrow and joy, and dark and light. We feel the contrasts sharply at this stillpoint. On the one hand, we numb ourselves with busyness, on the other, we huddle with each other around carefully tended flames during these seasonal celebrations of light.

My partner in these conversations also intuits the loss of community and relationship I feel at the end of the semester. I’m not just busy with the minutiae of ending a semester well from the administrative point of view, grading and such. I am mourning the fact that “we will never pass this way again.” I shall most certainly see some of my students next semester, formally and informally, but we will again never be constituted as a group, developing a distinctive class culture, considering the same topics, in the same historical context.

Apart from our practices, which in their fullest expression embody these contrasts, only poetry avails. Imagine my delight in hearing this poem on the Writer’s Almanac this morning, and my sadness in its implications (poem at 2:50).

Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness

by Mary Oliver

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

“Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness” by Mary Oliver, from A Thousand Mornings. © The Penguin Press, 2012.

via Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness by Mary Oliver | The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.

This would all sound like resignation to me, if love for the world were not at the center of the poem, and if what is passing were not so “married” to what is becoming. May we savor equally this loss and new life, this sorrow and this joy, this darkness and light.


About Richard Hudak

I am Senior Adjunct Faculty in Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and I have been a practitioner of Anusara™ yoga. I have completed 200 hours of teacher training within its diaspora community, consistent with its philosophy and alignment principles.
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2 Responses to The Growing Dark

  1. lybsta says:

    Really beautiful poem and thoughts. It’s nice sometimes to dwell within melancholy, and I often find that awareness of the intransient nature of things is what allows a fuller appreciation for the present moment. Namaste!

  2. Pingback: The Heart is the Context | The Considered Kula

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