What’s Your Plan?

Later today summer will officially arrive.  I say “officially” because the heat and humidity associated with summer arrived prematurely in southeastern Kentucky.  This time of year I don’t get outdoors any more than I have to.  I find the heat and humidity too oppressive.  For me summer is a great time for reading and reflection.  I plan to do plenty of both.

A number of years ago Mary Oliver wrote a poem called “The Summer Day” where she did some reflecting of her own.  I share this incredible poem with you here:  “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’ve written in the past of my love for Oliver’s poetry.  I admire her attentiveness to nature and things spiritual.  I especially admire the way she often joins the two together.  In this poem Mary’s thoughts of nature lead her to think of both the brevity and meaning of life.  Paying attention to God’s Creation can have that effect on you.  Even a cursory look at nature may cause a person to ponder some of life’s most important questions.  Without a doubt, the question Mary Oliver asks at the end of her poem is one of these questions.

How would you answer Mary?  What do “you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  So much hinges on a person’s response to this question.  If you haven’t stopped lately to consider this question I urge you to do so now.   As Oliver’s observations of nature revealed, we won’t be here forever so we need to make sure that we make what time we do have count.  The apostle Paul said much the same thing when we spoke of “redeeming the time” or “making the most of every opportunity” in Ephesians 5:16.  Both books of Scripture—the Bible and Creation—call for us to examine our lives and to make sure that we have a plan to make the most of the one life we have to live.  What is your plan?

–Chuck

(I photographed the black bear in the Smokies and the katydid in my yard.)