Doing social change work inevitably puts you in touch with a great deal of human suffering, and we all have to find ways to stay the course in spite of the sorrows it sometimes brings to us. I came across this beautiful poem by Mary Oliver last night, and I loved the last stanza: “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life/ I was a bride married to amazement. / I was the bridgeroom, taking the world into my arms…” What a graceful way to describing choosing also to see the infinite joys and mysteries that also make up the world we live in.
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut…
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular…
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridgeroom, taking the world into my arms…
– Mary Oliver