by Mary Oliver

Image: Natasha Myers
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird-
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast;  there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old?  Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect?  Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work.

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Poem by Mary Oliver from Thirst

I’ve been reading James Hillman’s The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, in which he talks about how the soul of the world needs the same attention that we have been giving to the soul of persons. How there is a soul quality to all things in our environment. How the anima mundi displays itself to us and how our response to the world of sensation and images is a large part of what we are here to do on earth. That our interaction with the more than human world is necessary for a renaissance of soul in this world.

What follows is a paragraph taken the chapter entitled Anima Mundi.

The world comes with spaces, colors, atmospheres, textures- a display of self-presenting forms. All things show faces, the world not only a coded signature to be read for meaning, but a physiognomy to be faced. As expressive forms, things speak; they show the shape they are in. They announce themselves, bear witness to their presence: “Look, here we are”. They regard us beyond how we may regard them, our perspectives, what we intend with them, and how we dispose of them. This imaginative claim on attention bespeaks a world ensouled. More of our imaginative recognition, the childlike act of imagining the world, animates the world and returns it to soul.

James Hillman, The return of the Soul to the World, 1992

The process of doing Embodied Imagination®, by developing a relationship with dreams, images, memories, and glimmerings of things, is a way of doing exactly this work of soul making. By responding to the world beyond our habitual anthropocentric stance we participate re-animating the world and in healing it.

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Marina Lenney
Location: Santa Barbara, CA Education: M. Arch, UCLA; BA Antioch College
Articles: 8

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