Sunday Best – August 26, 2018

It’s been a tough month for losses – Aretha Franklin, Kofi Annan, John McCain. So many more.

It’s been a tough year for losses – Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, Barbara Bush, Stephen Hawking. So many more.

You could fill in any unit of time and any length of list and the statement would still be true – a day of losses, a year of losses, a century of losses.

All of which begs the question so perfectly put my Mary Oliver,

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?


I first saw this quote alone, cut off from its body of a poem, and it felt demanding, urgent, anxious. But read below – it’s a whole different type of urgency, the urgency of learning how to be idle and blessed.

It need not be something grand that honors life, but rather something great. There is greatness in growing a perfect summer tomato, or taking a friend to tea, or swinging in a hammock reveling in the last rays of summer, or watching a grasshopper’s jaws go back and forth.

Dear honeybees, in honor of all those losses, in honor of this wonderful life — with an Oliver-y kind of urgency, let’s do something wild and precious 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?

           —Mary Oliver

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