Monday October 5 “Make no mistake. Of course your work will always matter. . . . Yet . . . . “
We posted Lynn Ungar’s poem, “Camas Lillies,” a year ago in September. As the weekend’s weather change ushers in October and Autumn, this contemplation of beauty in the work lives of busy people bears repeating. This gray Monday could be a good day to stand still for 30 seconds, or maybe 25 . . . . while you are on your way somewhere across campus, to allow some beautiful human being to reduce you to stillness. Or some beautiful leaf on a tree? Or just look out your window?
Or maybe, if you are crazy busy (this Monday I am, for example) you might want to save the poem for after work. Whenever you read it, it’s best to read the poem out loud, with a couple pauses within it.
Have a great week.
Consider the lilies of the field,
the blue banks of camas opening
into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the natives ground their bulbs
for flour, how the settlers’ hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?
And you—what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down—
papers, plans, appointments, everything—
leaving only a note: “Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming.”
Even now, unneeded and uneaten,
the camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake. Of course
your work will always matter.
Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.
“Camas Lilies” by Lynn Ungar, from Blessing the Bread: Meditations. © Skinner House, 1995. Presented here as posted on the poet’s website.