*Alternate* First Reading: Excerpt from Mary Oliver’s “Long Life”

An excerpt from Mary Oliver’s book “Long Life”

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. 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.

An excerpt from Mary Oliver’s book, “Long Life”

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