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Jane Fulton Alt: Meditations with Mary Oliver

During the last 3 years of my parents’ and sister’s declining health, I modified some semblance of an art practice by challenging myself to take one good photograph a day, no matter what, with my iphone.

Last month I visited Seattle for the first time and took a hike with my son. Everywhere I turned I saw beauty and it was thru this lens that I was able to reconcile the losses of loved ones.

I am not sure how I coupled the visual with Mary Oliver’s poems, other than her sentiments expressed so exquisitely how I was experiencing the world. This virtual daily diary (via instagram) has been a wonderful vehicle for sharing my thoughts of what it means to be alive in this world.

— Jane Fulton Alt


November 24

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” ― Mary Oliver


November 23

“Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled— to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world.” ― Mary Oliver


November 22

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” ― Mary Oliver.


November 20

“The poet must not only write the poem but must scrutinize the world intensely, or anyway that part of the world he or she has taken for subject. If the poem is thin, it is likely so not because the poet does not know enough words, but because he or she has not stood long enough among the flowers–has not seen them in any fresh, exciting, and valid way.” ― Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook. Thank you Mary Oliver, for accompanying me on this walk thru the forest, and for giving my photographs context. This particular photograph illustrates an insight I had during a walk thru the woods a few weeks ago. The dead tree stumps are the building materials for new life… And so it is with all of life, a cycle that necessitates the coming in and going out….


November 19

“But I also say this: that light is an invitation to happiness, and that happiness, when it’s done right, is a kind of holiness, palpable and redemptive. ” ― Mary Oliver


November 18

“to live in this world

you must be able to do three things to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go” ― Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Vol. 1.

The last sacred waterfall I experienced was in Brazil, 5 years ago, with my sister. We stood under the pounding water, mesmerized by the power of nature. I was “misted” 2 weeks ago by this waterfall and felt a very strong presence of my sister, whose 3rd anniversary of her passing is today. November 18, 2015  


November 14

“I Go Down To The Shore

I go down to the shore in the morning and depending on the hour the waves are rolling in or moving out, and I say, oh, I am miserable, what shall— what should I do? And the sea says in its lovely voice: Excuse me, I have work to do.” ― Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings 

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