It’s so very far from a summer day here in Chicago’s March. In the midwest we live under the constant threat that winter is just never that far away from us and can blow back in at any moment. It holds us hostage all during January but in February we begin to question it, we begin to sass back our captors a bit. In March we put on our winter coats with a grudge and sigh aloud when brief bouts of warm air greet us in place of icy blasts. Still, we know we’re not far from winter’s iron grip. It’s Chicago. We do what we must.
But a few days ago I was reminded of a poem I love most by Mary Oliver. I was reminded not because it’s titled “The Summer Day” but because so often I feel held captive by fear and doubt, no matter the weather and Mary Oliver reminds me in this brief poem that we are all temporary here. I have only this one wild and precious life. I cannot let myself be too often bundled up and hiding away.
Enjoy this today!
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?