I have Shauna Niequist’s blog post from yesterday to thank for this lovely poem by Mary Oliver:
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?
Its timing was perfect, arriving at a point where I needed a reminder of the beauty and importance of being still. What a perfect way to think about life — as being both wild and precious. Full of abandon and adventure, and also full of moments and people to savor.
Thinking of life in this sense seems so much more attainable than I often find myself thinking of life. Rather than feeling frantic about the future (Will I look back on my life in 40 years and wish I’d lived differently in some way?), Oliver’s words offer a calm resilience. My life is precious. My life is wild. It will be both in and out of my control.
And that will be just right.