October and Giving Your Gold Away


Looking across my back yard into the bird sanctuary during fall brings to mind Mary Oliver’s delightful poem Goldenrod. She describes these ubiquitous fall flowers as having “light-filled bodies… giving their gold away”.

This autumn her poem means more to me as it reminds me of a talk I heard recently on the physics of light by Stephan Martin. He told his listeners that light is how we know the Universe! Just that thought gives me pause. He invited us to recall the many ways we encounter light daily; for example, in the morning when we open our eyes and see light from the window which travels to our brains creating an image. He reflected that our eyes are the interface between ourselves and our world. Seeing is a sacred, connecting act we experience first thing upon awakening.

We might take a morning walk and observe goldenrod on the roadside. He explained that when we see it we are experiencing light from the sun absorbed by atoms of the flower. Goldenrod then emits the energy from these atoms, so we are seeing the light of goldenrod – not just a reflection, but the essence of goldenrod. How wonderful is that! Another reason to be in awe.

He said this is true for all that we see – each being is radiating itself into the world like a star, creating intimacy, healing our separation from nature - when we are receptive to this truth.

Later in the day we might be sitting near someone and feel the heat from them. The reality is that we are feeling light. They are glowing; we are glowing. Our bodies both see and feel light. Maybe we are sitting together in the sun, that remarkable being generously pouring out four million tons of itself every second. Our entire lives are powered by sunlight, and our energy IS the sun’s energy. Light is what we are!

No wonder Jesus was moved to say,

“You are the light of the world... let your light shine…”

No wonder Buddha said at the end of his life,

“Make of yourself a light”.

No wonder Mary Oliver implicitly encourages us to imitate goldenrod and

give our gold away

How can we not?

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La Vista Ecological Learning Center

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Godfrey, IL 62035

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A Ministry of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate