I considered posting Mary Oliver’s poem about spring, the one about the black bear, but then I wanted to post this poem. There is something in it that resonates with the wonderful Artist’s Way classes I’ve been taking since January on Sunday afternoons in the old farmhouse at Crown Point on Ira Road. We are encouraged to think of ourselves as precious, to care for ourselves that way, like putting on ones own oxygen mask first so as to have the possibility of helping others. This is not only the message of Buddha.
We are each of us supposed to be the light of the world.
The Buddha’s Last Instruction
by Mary Oliver
“Make of yourself a light,”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal — a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire —
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.