Last Friday my young colleague Nick brought me a present from an out of town trip – this small green metal grasshopper (metal) along with this question from Mary Oliver’s poem about a grasshopper.

Tell me, what is it you
plan to do with your one
wild and precious life?

 

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On Saturday a dozen Presbyterian pastors came for a visit. I had met with them once before – nineteen years ago. This time they wanted to talk about what it’s like becoming more “mature” in life and year – they must have thought I had learned a bit!

I began by showing them the grasshopper, and reading the poem and those words. It was a sacred and deep time as we opened our hearts and thoughts to each other.

Here’s the whole poem. You may want to pause and ponder those last lines.

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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