Urgent Mortality P.L.U.S.

The Summer Day ~ Mary Oliver

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?

I think I’m detoxing.  I hope so.  If that is the case, I might be getting better soon; clearer.  My speculation is that I am trying to manage Post-Living-Urgently-Syndrome (P.L.U.S.).

I am glad that I have been intentional about ‘going for it’ in various regards: joining the Marines, getting married, having 3 kids right away, planting churches for Spanish speakers nearby, going off to seminary, going off to China… shifting to Europe, accepting responsibilities back in Asia… saying goodbye to 3 kids.
There have been a few dramatic lunges over the years, followed by lots of chaos, then a good bit of muddled lists of loose ends, then a surge of urgency as the next last thing emerges and mundaneness is trumped.
Not now, though.  Now, we are descending right down into the midst of the mundane.  As a couple we are not looking for a mega-intense anything.  We have a possible job lined up, a possible neighborhood scoped out and a general sense of… just living here and now.

This is the most unusual feeling I can remember having in ages. No real adrenaline.  Just here and now.  Wow. I wonder if I’m up to it?

from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA
Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver.
All rights reserved.
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3 thoughts on “Urgent Mortality P.L.U.S.”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I recently discovered Oliver's poetry but hadn't come across this poem yet.
    [fyi–I've been following your blog since hearing you preach at a church in CM–love your insights.]

  2. I'm ruined. To learn that a real writer is out there…
    Actually, thanks for the comment, Annie. Always good to hear when there is a connection with others thinking on life in a 'hope without hype' way.

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