This cold rainy day, seasonable again after a stretch of warmth, fast-forwarding the spring season to fill my garden with gorgeous yellows and pinks and greens. I stretch my arms out wide to embrace this glorious Earth Day.
And even though summer is a ways a way, this Mary Oliver poem comes to mind. She talks about knowing how to be idle, something that is very hard for me to do. But today, besides planting some trees and doing a wee bit of grading, I was idle today. I sat down in the grass and dug my hands into the earth and marveled at the tiny little particles that surround the roots of these baby trees. I gazed at the rain falling. I wandered without much of a mission across the fields. I took a nap. I let myself go from whatever to whatever, being, not doing. This is my offering, my prayer today.
The last two lines of this poem always stop me, and I ask that question of my life, what do I want of it? Being in the world, being of the earth, being with the trees, the forest, my family, my animals. She is calling me to be, not to do do do. Or is she?
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?
– Mary Oliver