I came across these wonderful words from Mary Oliver this week. Maybe because life has recently thrown me a curve ball that I find myself sitting and reflecting on this time and time again. It is from her poem 'The Uses of Sorrow ':
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
This was written after her partner of 40 years, photographer Molly Malone Cook, had died in 2005. It is from a book called Thirst: poems that were published the following year. Most of the poems are, in part, about dealing with that loss and the attempt to see spiritual meaning in it. Often the first line is left out but it is not prose. It is part of the poem. That line is meaningful. The title is important too. She is observing “the uses of sorrow”. We are meant to know this is about deep sorrow and dream images. The love they had together for so many years had a secret darkness within it. That someday it would end because we are all mortal. We are also meant to see the poems together as a whole. Not one part of it ripped away.
From a talk and reading of her book a few years later in Seattle, Oliver recalled, "We were talkers - about our work, our pasts, our friends, our ideas ordinary and far-fetched. We would often wake before there was light in the sky and make coffee and let our minds rattle our tongues. We would end in exhaustion and elation. Not many nights or early mornings later, we would do the same. It was a 40-year conversation."
What a wonderful gift. It makes me think about what is grief? Love that does not know where to go?