What Is It You Plan To Do?

by The Rev. Dr. Jason L. Parkin

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?

This poem, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Mary Oliver, is, to me, a gorgeous meditation on several things: on the blessing of noticing, on the reality of our mortality, and on the way finitude and mortality make all of life more precious, if we are willing to notice and cherish it.

How easy it is to be consumed by the frenzy of life, the swirl of activity and responsibility, the tyranny of the immediate. How seductive are the wiles of the world constantly to be achieving, acquiring, accumulating.

The Easter Season is nearing its end. Summer is approaching. The extended Season of Pentecost enfolds us in these next several months with the opportunity to grow in faith and intimacy with God. Activities and responsibilities are reaching completion as we approach the end of the school year and the church program year. But whatever the season; whatever the day; whatever the current rhythm of our lives or the pressures of our calendars, we are still-preeminently-the children of God, of a generous, gracious, loving Creator, who has given us the gift of life itself and who calls us to use those lives prayerfully and lovingly and thoughtfully and abundantly.

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