The Mountains Touch the Clouds

In a world where multi-tasking is a goal and priority, where we twitter unceasing to the empty air, where our lives are open Facebooks and if we are not busy from morning until night we become disoriented, it is profoundly countercultural to seek stillness and solitude. Then there is the poet Mary Oliver. She isn’t afraid to be countercultural; poets can’t afford to be afraid. Or perhaps truer to say, poets know what there is really to be afraid of:

The Old Poets of China

Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe
that I do not want it. Now I understand
why the old poets of China went so far and high
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.

                                         —  Mary Oliver

This entry was posted in Desert, Etcetera, Mindfulness, Poetry, Quotes, Wisdom, Writers, Zen and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Mountains Touch the Clouds

  1. what a beautiful poem. Walk in beauty this day.


  2. Pauline says:

    Your words put me in mind of a poem I wrote extolling a solitary life. For some of us, creeping into the mist is how we survive…

    living alone

    silence settles down on the afternoon
    like a bed sheet
    shaken out and left to sink
    slowly over the mattress
    the clock ticks into the stillness
    a turned page whispers

    somewhere else voices are raised
    dishes clink, doors slam
    in the yard the birds chatter
    a plane rattles the overhead clouds

    in this place, the walls embrace quiet
    releasing it into the room the way sunshine
    slides through a window
    laying a brilliant splash of tranquility
    across the single chair


  3. Meg says:

    The Oliver poem triggered a memory of the following quote from Enid Bagnold, 1956. (Took me awhile to find it)
    “How boldly we waste our time when we know there is so little of it. How we know nothing and would rather garden than think of it. How the slightest diversion makes one fling off the tedium of contemplating God. Life is wasted and flung away hourly in expectation. The days run by decoyed by it. Even getting up we expect breakfast. Then, there is Monday and Saturday and Christmas, there is a continual tiny date with activity. Of, if we are left in a pool of silence, let’s cut our nails.”


    • Touch2Touch says:

      As a devout non-gardener (black thumb, as you know), I have always fondly imagined that gardening in fact was a way of communing with God, and a most attractive form of solitude and silence.
      Hmmm, maybe not?


      • Pauline says:

        Gardening is good, hard work but just being out of doors, soaking up sunshine and relishing the feel of the earth in your hands, noting the fragile strength of plants and the stunning variety of growing things is enough of a reward in itself. I talk to the earth and the plants when I garden but yes. it’s a lovely form of human solitude 🙂


  4. Meg says:

    I focused on something else in the Bagnold quote. How we are quick to do, and to anticipate. How we need diversion … even something as satisfying as pulling weeds, rather than face “contemplating God” without any such earthly accompaniment. Judy, your old quote: “Don’t just do something; Sit there”. That’s the hard part – trying to tame the monkey mind to attempt something it is not good at.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      That was my therapist’s quote: Don’t just do something, sit there!
      For me, just sitting there was a major effort.
      But an appetite for “the pool of silence” can develop, slowly, slowly. Monkey mind never ceases, but other longings arise to combat it — every little once in a while.

      Meditation practice (there are a gazillion approaches, it’s the antithesis of “one size fits all”) is really a great help in the taming.
      Focusing on some activities — for example, tea ceremony, calligraphy, gardening, etc. — can be a meditation practice rather than a diversion. There really ARE a gazillion ways to skin a cat — or tame a monkey.


  5. jakesprinter says:

    Very Extra ordinary shot ,Nice Angle of photo 🙂


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