Mary Oliver was a great North American mystic. She called herself a " praise poet," but she did not come to her sense of praise easily for she had been sexually abused by her father as a child. The day she graduated from high school she left home and never returned. She says it took her years to get her life back. "For years and years I struggled just to love my life."
She was a profound creation centered mystic who awakens us all to the healing powers of nature. Here are a few of my favorite lines from her poetry ( including of course her poem "At the River Clarion" which names so wonderfully the cosmic Christ and which I reproduce in my latest book on Hildegard of Bingen)
"Glory to the world, that great teacher"
"There is only one question: how to love the world"
" I want to be in partnership with the universe."
" let me keep company with those who say 'look!' And laugh in astonishment and bow their heads."
"Still, what I want in my life
Is to be willing
to be dazzled--
To cast aside the weight of facts.
Mary Oliver drank deeply from the wells of the via positiva as well as the via negativa--she talks of " the black river of loss" and of how "nature has many mysteries--some of them severe." She urges us to do the same.