On Being Touched

There is beauty in the world. Though it may seem more than a little self-evident to say so, I feel the need to reaffirm this simple truth. I do so in large part because there is also great ugliness in the world. One need only glance at the day’s headlines to be reminded, sometimes painfully, of such. As a clinical social worker working with children and families in a community mental health setting, I do not even need to look at the headlines. I bear witness to the suffering and dysfunction of others as a livelihood. Given the work I do and the world, with all its present horrors, in which this work is embedded, I sometimes lose my way and, shrouded by ugliness, lose sight of the beauty around me. Eventually, my sight—and perhaps my faith—is restored when I take refuge in either the natural world or the world of literature. In particular, I am indebted to the poet, Mary Oliver, for time and again reminding me of the beauteous riches which remain ever at my disposal. Here is one example of such, from her 2005 book, New And Selected Poems: Volume Two….

Lingering In Happiness

After rain after many days without rain,
it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees,
and the dampness there, married now to gravity,
falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground

where it will disappear—but not, of course, vanish
except to our eyes. The roots of the oaks will have their share,
and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss;
a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole’s tunnel;

and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

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