A Funny Love

It’s odd and confusing to me, what love is. If we’re fortunate, there are a handful of people we love deeply in our lifetimes. Beyond that, there are more folks who matter to us, who brighten our lives, and make them better. These are people we know and care for (a beautiful expression I keep hearing from wise friends at church) up close, every day, or, at least, regularly. These are the people we love.

What, though, about the people we never meet and yet love? The ones we admire, look to, look up to, look forward to. Folks who move us, through their art, their writing, their athletic prowess, or their community-minded goodness. Is that love, what we feel for them? Can I love someone I’ll never even meet, let alone experience often and regularly?

Mary Oliver died today and there’s this tender, achy spot in my heart. It keeps getting poked and my eyes get damp and tickly at the sting. I check them, remind myself, I didn’t know this woman, there is no need for this. But what I most want to is to go home, to read my favorite poems and to cry. To mourn the loss of this person from our earth, this woman I never met.

Her poetry moved me, moves me, the way her poetry moves so many. It’s comforting, being on Instagram and seeing the people I follow all paying tribute to this hardy, elegant person, caring for her work, and the presence she shared publicly with us. Knowing her bright, precise, lush words will continue to burst across a plain white page is a comfort. Knowing she was brave and bold and shared her life, through poetry, with us, is inspiring. It’s not exactly love, though, is it? I can’t claim to (though I’ll toss it around lightly to describe my feelings about her work) love her, really. I think that’s OK. It’s right and honest, and while it’s not love, there is care, here, in this big, broad, breath-catching way. The world is grayer, and dimmer tonight for people all over the world because she’s gone from it. That care matters. I’m thankful for people who let themselves be known and cared for on a big stage. The people we’ll never touch, but who freely touch our hearts and our minds, as she did. Praying for us tonight, a world lacking a little now, with no Mary Oliver in it, but also celebrating for us, too, a world filled up because she so generously shared her extraordinary vision with us all.

I don’t know if this poem below is my favorite of hers, but it’s so truly good, it’s what I most want to share here. It’s specially good read out loud.

Thank you, Mary Oliver. Godspeed.


Mary Oliver


Understand, I am always trying to figure out

what the soul is,

and where hidden,

and what shape

and so, last week,

when I found on the beach

the ear bone

of a pilot whale that may have died

hundreds of years ago, I thought

maybe I was close to discovering something

for the ear bone  


is the portion that lasts longest

in any of us, man or whale; shaped

like a squat spoon with a pink scoop where

once, in the lively swimmer’s head,

it joined its two sisters

in the house of hearing,

it was only two inches long

and thought: the soul

might be like this

so hard, so necessary  


yet almost nothing.

Beside me

the gray sea was opening and shutting its wave-doors,

unfolding over and over

its time-ridiculing roar;

I looked but I couldn’t see anything

through its dark-knit glare;

yet don’t we all know, the golden sand

is there at the bottom,

though our eyes have never seen it,

nor can our hands ever catch it  


lest we would sift it down

into fractions, and facts


and what the soul is, also

I believe I will never quite know.

Though I play at the edges of knowing,

truly I know

our part is not knowing,

but looking, and touching, and loving,

which is the way I walked on,


through the pale-pink morning light.

9:58pm is the perfect time to start.

Prior to spending $48, minus an $8 online coupon I stumbled across (yes!), these were my thoughts I was jotting down in a Word document:

I want to blog and I’m not sure how to start. I feel like there should be something momentous about the first post, but that’s silly, really, isn’t it? I see how blogs start – someone has something to say, so they write it down. I have lots of things to say, mostly the stuff rolling around in my head. SO SAY IT ALREADY. And maybe stop capital-letters shouting at yourself, dear. You haven’t done anything wrong. Just been a little shy.

Blogging. I’m not sure how to do it. Am I writing to counsel others? To get answers for myself? Do I need a theme? Is that how this works? Have I figured things out worth sharing? You can see why this is challenging for me. Plus there’s the pressure of the name.

The Name. Bloggers start with such cute names. Momastery. The Bloggess. But then they so often change. Now it’s Glennon Doyle Melton, or really, just Glennon Doyle. Mind you The Bloggess is still The Bloggess. What would I call myself? I like Ms E Writes. But I expect that’s taken. All the good ones are. I like One Bite at a Time, based on that joke “How do you eat an elephant?” I love that joke. I wish I could remember who first told it to me. I want to say it was one of Kiddo’s friends, but, looking back, it might have been a TV show. (It’s a little terrible how TV, movies, and not quite real things get mixed up in real things, so sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint an actual memory versus something I just happened to read, see, or hear about. Am I the only one who has these faux to real memory lapses? I hope not.) The elephant joke is mixed up for me now. I still love it dearly. It makes my heart exhale, a big sigh of relief. We do this one bite at a time.

Also, I like eating. I would definitely list eating as a pastime. I’m fairly sure I mentioned it here, listing about myself. So that works. Lo and behold, it’s available. So here we are. I’ve committed to a 1-year blog, by paying. At first WordPress had a free student option. However, at some point in clicking around, I must have given away my no-longer-a-student-fully-employed status. Now, at $40 lighter, I’m hoping the spending of real money will encourage me to do real writing on this blog. A little like going to a gym, but in a blog form.