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Once, years ago, I emerged from the woods in the early morning at the end of a walk and — it was the most casual of moments — as I stepped from under the trees into the mild, pouring-down sunlight I experienced a sudden impact, a seizure of happiness," wrote beloved bard Mary Oliver in Long Life: Essays and Other Writings. Her words seem as fitting a tribute as anyone could offer upon learning of that she changed worlds on January 17, 2019, at age 83. She continues:

"It was not the drowning sort of happiness, rather the floating sort. I made no struggle toward it; it was given. Time seemed to vanish. Urgency vanished. Any important difference between myself and all other things vanished. I knew that I belonged to the world, and felt comfortably my own containment in the totality. I did not feel that I understood any mystery, not at all; rather that I could be happy and feel blessed within the perplexity — the summer morning, its gentleness, the sense of the great work being done though the grass where I stood scarcely trembled. As I say, it was the most casual of moments, not mystical as the word is usually meant, for there was no vision, or anything extraordinary at all, but only a sudden awareness of the citizenry of all things within one world: leaves, dust, thrushes and finches, men and women. And yet it was a moment I have never forgotten, and upon which I have based many decisions in the years since."

Time and time again Mary Oliver has invited us into this blessing within perplexity, and it is safe to say that she may never be forgotten in this world of roses and creeks, strawberry moons and black snakes, humpback whales and kookaburras. In her honor, here's a sampling of the ways she touched our hearts and inspired in us reverence for nature and each other.

taken from Spirituality and Practice