By Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

Recently I attended a workshop facilitated by the Rev. Mary Earle. The workshop is part of a two-year program titled “Forest Dwelling” in which participants learn to live wisely and well during their remaining years. 

In the recent workshop we were invited to “remember that our bodies are gifts, marvelously made…and how they point us toward one another and the planet.” 

Mary led us through an exercise using the poem Otherwise by Jane Kenyon. We were invited to reflect on the small things in our daily lives that give us joy and to remember that “it might have been otherwise.” As an example

 – In the morning I cherish that first cup of coffee, with its half and half, and know that it might have been otherwise. 

– I delight in the sound that my cats make when I pet them, and I know that it might be otherwise.

The purpose of the exercise is to keep us mindful that we are mortal and to notice what we cherish. As you go about your daily activities, you may find yourself saying, “I cherish . . . and I know that someday it will be otherwise.”

If you would like to spend more time with the Rev. Mary Earle, please click on the link below to find a description of her 8-week online class entitled “Beginning Again: Benedictine Wisdom for Living with Illness.”

– The Rev. Patricia Riggins
The WisdomYears 

Learn more about Forest Dwelling here. https://ost.edu/forestdwelling/