I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had at least one “hurricane” in his or her life — a destructive personal experience that seems beyond redemption at the time. In this poem, Mary Oliver does what she does so well, drawing lessons from nature that can keep hope alive even during our darkest days.
In 2004, a tornado ripped through our neighborhood in Madison, Wisconsin, damaging houses and toppling many old trees. No one was hurt, but property damage was extensive.
At the time, I was going through my third major bout of clinical depression. I found it nearly unbearable to look at our yard, where we had lost a lovely maple and a towering white pine — the devastation “out there” mirrored so closely what was going on “in here.”
But slowly, very slowly, the still-standing trees began to recover, “pushing new leaves from their stubbed ends.” And slowly, very slowly, new life began to grow in me.
So for me, this poem evokes deep feeling. It reminds me of hard times and of the fact that eventually I was able to reclaim hope. Today I read Mary Oliver’s closing lines as a sort of prayer for all of us:
“For some things / there are no wrong seasons. / Which is what I dream of for me.”
by Mary Oliver
It didn’t behave
like anything you had
ever imagined. The wind
tore at the trees, the rain
fell for days slant and hard.