Hot Summer

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 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

I’ve been thinking a lot about my life these days. Or rather, I’ve been thinking about life, mine and others. Mostly I have been thinking about the intensity of anger I am experiencing in the world around me, and in the world beyond me. Personally I am not angry. I am saddened by the state of things, but I am not angry.

I feel as though I am walking through mud and wondering what has happened to this world we live in? Have we lost our ability to be people of grace? People of hope? People who, at the very least, are civil to one another?

When was the last time you experienced someone giving someone else “the benefit of the doubt?” The idea that, maybe just maybe, what I think is going is not actually going on? Or that sometimes people make mistakes but its not the end of the world? And what about compassion?

What are we going to do with this one wild an precious life? Me…I’m going to continue doing my level best to be kind and gracious to everyone – and trust me, these days, that is a major challenge.


About Terri C Pilarski

I am an Episcopal priest serving a delightfully progressive, interesting, creative congregation. I have been married more than half my life to the same man. We have two grown children, plus two dogs and two cats, although the number of four legged household members changes from time to time. I love to garden, knit, read, and play on Facebook or with my blog. I have been a practitioner of daily meditation since I was nineteen. I practice yoga five days a week and walk every where I am able too.
This entry was posted in anger, compassion, Mary Oliver, sad. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Hot Summer

  1. altar ego says:

    So many thoughts come to mind, but I agree that the world feels very much out of joint, individually and collectively. There are some sane and sober heads out there, and they pop up here and there before getting swallowed quickly by the masses. It doesn't seem enough simply to model nonanxious presence, or kindness, or grace. It feels as though people are reacting primally, as to suggest that survival is at stake. And perhaps it is, although we are supposed to be an enlightened society with the capacity and competence to rise above. I keep reminding myself to breathe. If nothing else I get a few moments of peace. I pray that for you, and for whatever else will help settle the world gone almost mad.

  2. Purple says:

    Some days it is more that I can bear to read the news, to hear more talk of fear (of health insurance…of talks to children…of violence…of people not making it)…and it spills over into everyday life. You have said it well…and Mary Oliver compliments what you have said.

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