The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,
how to fall down into the grass,
how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed,
how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
from New and Selected Poems, 1992 Beacon Press, Boston, MA
Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver. All rights reserved.
This has long been a favorite poem since it touches on the myriad ways that I question how life operates. A keen observer since childhood, I would lie down in the grass and witness, as Mary did, what was going on as the humans above were bustling about, so focused on doing rather then being. Would that I take that time now. So buzzy-busy that sometimes miracles nearly slip by. I do catch them, such as the many antlered deer that I witnessed out the window of a friend’s home as I sat on the comfy couch and the hawk that swooped down over my car and onto a nearby telephone pole, and the musical messages that love and grace are but a decision away. As I am typing this entry, my partial attention is on the movement of my fingers on keyboard, a piece of my mind and heart are with a friend whose father passed over the weekend. A profoundly spiritual person, she knows he is at peace and yet feels the depth of grief that her daddy is no longer here in body. I am thinking of all others on the planet who are saying farewell to loved ones. I am in my own heart, missing my parents, with the upcoming anniversary of my mother’s passing 0n November 26th. Ironically, I am seeing it as a two part anniversary. She died the day after Thanksgiving, so I will be honoring her on both days. On the actual calendar day, I will be at a retreat in Canada and so will offer a ritual honoring all of our ancestors. It is this constant reminder that life is transient and unpredictable and we d0n’t know when our last day will be, nor do we know the last day that our loved ones will walk the planet.
With my own wild and precious life, I am pouring out words like so much elixir onto a sometimes parched earth in need of nourishment. I am tapping my feet along to music as it emerges from my computer speakers; the beautiful voice of Snatam Kaur singing the lyrics “We are the light of love.” over and over. I am contemplating Thanksgiving here at my house with my son as we welcome family of choice. I am sitting at the table that in a few days will be the gathering place for these beloved souls. I know that my parents will be present in their current form. I am imagining time in retreat next week; both teaching and immersing in the restorative energy at Grail Springs in Ontario, Canada. I am anticipating a visit with my friends Jody Kessler and Doug Shire in Ithaca en route. Jody is a solo singer-songwriter and together, she and Doug are part of a kirtan group called One Love Chant. I am welcoming new friends each day, and the amazing overlapping soul circle connections that enchant me. I am teaching people how to live their own wild and precious life, coming out from behind worn out beliefs of who they thought they were so they can dance with abandon.
Today as I was meeting with a client, we were talking about setting intention each day as a form of prayer of gratitude. I ask each morning, in daily ritual, to be a vessel, a channel, a hollow reed, as the Divine sees fit. It is a counter-balance to the part of me that feels she can never do enough. When I am in that mode, I can accept that whatever I do, as long as I do it whole-heartedly, it will always be enough.
http://youtu.be/HQrud4CQ-O0 Truly-Snatam Kaur