This Summer

This Summer

This Summer

In honor of today being the first day of summer, I would like to share a poem with you,

“The Summer Day”

By 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 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?

   I find the specificity of Mary Oliver paying attention to this grasshopper invigorating. I receive it as an invitation to ask how will I pay attention to this summer. Specifically, how will I pay attention this moment when I am working in the garden, this sunset that I am watching right now, the smell of this flower I am breathing in, the taste of this freshly harvested produce from this farmers market, the beauty of this starlit sky tonight, this round of golf I am playing, this moment I am chasing fireflies with my grandchildren, this moment my child is running through the sprinkler, this marshmallow I am toasting over a camp fire, this walk I am enjoying with this person on this summer evening?

   The ample pleasures of summer invite us to pay attention, to fall down into the grass, to be idle and blessed, and to stroll through the fields. 

So if the question Mary Oliver ends her poem with seems too immense for us, perhaps we can whittle it down to this: tell me, what is it you plan to do with this wild and precious summer?


P.S. We post the Weekly Words of Wellness column on our Living Compass Facebook page each Friday morning and readers are encouraged to share their thoughts there. You can visit our Facebook page by clicking  HERE. Scroll down to find today's column and share your thoughts on how you intend to enjoy summer this summer.

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