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October - Giving One’s Gold Away

During fall the pollinator garden at La Vista brings to mind Mary Oliver’s delightful poem “Goldenrod”. She describes these ubiquitous fall flowers as having “light-filled bodies… giving their gold away”. I appreciate that way of looking at goldenrod which seem to be everywhere at this time of year.

Her poem came to mean more to me after hearing a talk on the physics of light by astronomer 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 said that our eyes are the interface between ourselves and our world, and that seeing is a sacred connecting act we experience first thing upon awakening!

Next, we may take a morning walk and observe goldenrod growing and giving on the roadside. He explained that we are actually 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! Here is another reason to be in awe, and 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 heat radiating from them. The reality is that we are feeling light. They are glowing; we are glowing. Our bodies both see and feel light. Ponder this, 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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