Sunday, July 04, 2010

wild and precious

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?

from Mary Oliver's "The Summer Day"


I saw this poem today, the text painstakingly hammered into a refurbished coffee table. I'm not sure what I wish for more: that I'd thought of it myself or that I had the motivation to spend three hours stamping wood. DIY ineptitude aside, the poem resonates with me. It's a cliché really, finding God in Nature. But I find truth in it, ever more so recently. Sitting out on our screened in porch at dusk, looking out toward the woods as the last bit of sun ekes through the trees. The sight thrills, like plugging myself into a socket. 

Happiness is not thinking. Meditation gets you there, but I don't quite have the patience for that, at least right now. But Nature -- the might of the ocean, the quiet of the woods behind our house -- offers a respite from all that noisy, distracting thinking. I often forget this trick, this quick-fix source of rejuvenation, so I'm writing it down here. To remember.


Last week, we picnicked at Fort Phoenix in Fairhaven, MA, a Revolutionary War fort that nowadays -- if, you know, you disregard the cannons -- is peaceful and welcoming with rocky ledges and grassy knolls.

The mist rolled in and out, and we watched the fishing boats looming larger and larger, bound for Fairhaven's harbor. 

Check out the view. And so this, apparently, is how I lead this "wild and precious" life of mine. 


  1. i love this post. beautiful, elyssa. i'm so grateful to be able to share in your wild and precious life.

    in other news, i must have that table.

  2. Your meditation is just different-- it comes, maybe, in being in nature. As does mine. Never do I feel more meditative than on a bicycle on a cool, crisp morning, pedaling past farm animals, fields, and crops.

    And you know what I wish? That I had Mary Oliver's gift. So much of her poetry resonates with me, I am so grateful for her gift.