The Summer Day– Mary Oliver
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 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?
I’ve been struggling with some challenging personal news in the last couple of days, and in the midst of the roller coaster ride going on inside my brain this poem came to mind. It speaks to me about paying attention and being present. This life is filled with so much “good” news and “bad” news, and at both ends of that spectrum there is only so much I can do about it. What I can do is show up and be present to what is. I can feel what I feel, but it doesn’t help anyone when I get stuck there. Whatever particular thing is going on in my life in any given moment, as real and important and impactful as it might be, there is always more to the story than that. When I allow myself to be open to all of it (or at least as much of the full spectrum as I can manage) then I am more capable of bringing the fullness of who I am to the situations where I can make a difference, which mostly means showing up and allowing the light of Love to shine in me and through me. “Tell me, what else should I have done?” I suspect I will be working on this right up to the moment I take my last breath, but this is what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life!