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  • Writer's pictureTina Langdok - Professional Yoga Therapist

Be ignited or be gone! A poem by Mary Oliver that inspires us to do better.

Updated: Jul 5

(photo credit: Chip Duncan)

What I Have Learned So Far by Mary Oliver

Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I

not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,

looking into the shining world? Because, properly

attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.

Can one be passionate about the just, the

ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit

to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a

story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.

Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of

light is the crossroads of — indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

This is a new Mary Oliver poem for me… and it seems very appropriate for our time – a strong call to action supported by the old and honorable tradition of meditation.    


Oliver is suggesting it isn’t enough to practice “mindfulness light” or to sit on the mountaintop far away from what’s happening in the real world.  Instead she challenges us to reflect on the just, the ideal, the sacred, and the mess mankind has created. 

Inspired by this wisdom we can follow the words of Ghandi and “be the change”. 

So let’s turn our thoughts toward radiance, igniting ourselves through reflection into action.  Be ignited, or be gone, indeed!




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