Today I’d like to share a couple of poems which help condense important truths. I’ve been reading a lot of Mary Oliver lately, mainly because she’s new to me and has a precise way of highlighting Nature with a cosmic consideration. First the poem:

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?

See what I mean? The poem draws you in, delights in natural details which alone create greater awareness, then from that microcosm a soul-shaking question is asked, instantly taking you to the macrocosm!

To me it says: “Don’t tarry in the nonessential. Don’t make excuses. Live your passion. Be your purpose. Don’t delay, don’t procrastinate. Because you’re unique and life is fleeting yet necessary, teeming with expression and it wants yours!”

What does this poem say to you?

The next one is part VI of Wendell Berry’s poem “Sabbaths 2001.” You can read the entire poem here and it’s well worth it.

Sit and be still
until in the time
of no rain you hear
beneath the dry wind’s
commotion in the trees
the sound of flowing
water among the rocks,
a stream unheard before,
and you are where
breathing is prayer.

How many moments in life have we allowed breathing to be prayer? Despite all the teachings, all the alerts that the breath is sacred, ours is mostly hurried, shallow, stop and start, jittery or too athletic. Make it smooth, make it even, make it gentle for in your breathing you find the true measure of your heart, your innermost status quo, the pulse of your body and mind.

Please share how you breathe.

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Spiritual Life Lessons from Poems

One thought on “Spiritual Life Lessons from Poems

  • 07/22/2010 at 7:17 PM

    These are nice poems. You are right about “The Summer Day.” It pulls you in and it’s almost as time slows a little while we pay attention to the little details that are so often overlooked. Thanks for sharing these poems.

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