you're reading...
Wednesday's Whim

Wednesday’s Whim: We are all wild, valorous, amazing.

I have sort of recently been quite taken by the prose and poetry of Mary Oliver.  A few years ago a friend gifted me Twelve Moons and I ate it up, taking it along with me on backpacking trips in graduate school.  My second Oliver book was Thirst, of which the title poem remains my favorite of all.  Since then I’ve picked up bits and pieces of her work on-line and have been most obsessed with this short sentence from Blue Pastures:

All my life and it has not come to any more than this: beauty and terror.

But this morning sitting in a tiny coffee shop on Broadway and 123rd in New York City (where I am for an already phenomenal workshop about raising awareness and funds for camps and conference centers) I read “A Few Words,” a short essay in Blue Pastures, and I swooned.  Below are a few excerpted lines.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Nothing in the forest is charming …

And nothing in the forest is cute …

Toys are cute.  But animals are not toys.  Neither are trees, rivers, oceans, swamps, the Alps, the mockingbird singing all night in the bowers of thorn, the snapping turtle, or the purple-fleshed mushroom.

Such words – “cute,” “charming,” “adorable”- miss the mark, for what is perceived of in this way is stripped of dignity, and authority …

Thus we manage to put ourselves in the masterly way – if nature is full of a hundred thousand things adorable and charming, diminutive and powerless, then who is in the position of power?  We are!  We are the parents, and the governors.  The notion facilitates a view of the world as playground and laboratory, which is a meager view surely.  And it is disingenuous, for it seems so harmless, so responsible.  But it is neither.

For it makes impossible the other view of nature, which is of a realm both sacred and intricate, as well as powerful, of which we are no more than a single part. …

We live, I am sure of this, in the same country, in the same household, and our burning comes from the same lamp.  We are all wild, valorous, amazing.  We are, none of us, cute.

(Italics mine)


Whim: “sudden idea.” This weekly-ish post promises a number of things: personal thoughts and reflections, showing off Camp Stevens’ programs and staff, announcements for upcoming opportunities, and answering questions or responding to comments “from the audience.” If you have a topic or question you’d like addressed, just e-mail Beth!



  1. Pingback: Wednesday’s Whim: Balance | When the Bell Rings - November 5, 2014

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: