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QUINTESSENCE

The Origami of Light

Floating Flower Market, Amsterdam
Flower and fruits are always fit presents; flowers because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Gifts"

I hear the violoncello or man's heart's complaint.
- Walt Whitman, "Leaves of Grass"

Yesterday my husband brought fresh flowers into the house, red tulips. Tight and closed, the deep green leaves folded against the buds, I placed them in a vase on the kitchen table. Hour by hour, basking by the window in the sun's warmth, they opened. This is how late winter feels today. The cold earth, the trees and shrubbery hunkered bare and tight against the winds and bouts of snow and freezing rain, lift, hour by hour, by new angles of light. The northern hemisphere of earth is turning once again toward the sun, and the pale watery light that sweeps away the cold wakes the growing things. Light has opened the red tulips on my table. Light opens the heart.

I'd like to share with you the words of Mary Oliver as a small meditation on the peace and beauty to be found in the ordinary. A small poem - in origami folds - opening to a moving, deep appreciation of simply being alive.

FRESHEN THE FLOWERS, SHE SAID

So I put them in the sink, for the cool porcelain
was tender,
and took out the tattered and cut each stem
on a slant,
trimmed the black and raggy leaves, and set them all -
roses, delphiniums, daisies, iris, lillies,
and more whose names I don't know, in bright new water -
gave them

a bounce upward at the end to let them take
their own choice of position, the wheels, the spurs,
the little sheds of the buds. It took, to do this,
perhaps fifteen minutes.
Fifteen minutes of music
with nothing playing.


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