Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Call to Being

For a little over two months, I’ve been swimming around in a sort of agreeable limbo. Now and then I’ll pick up something I find floating by, fiddle with it for a time, then lose interest and leave it to bob away in my wake as I paddle over to another pretty distraction. One part of me wants to stay in this warm, indulgent place forever. Another part of me—the most insistent part—is drawn to the ladder leading out of this pool like steel to a magnet. “Gotta get out of here,” grates that persistent little voice. “Gotta go. Gotta do. Need money. Need stuff. Can’t get that here…”

Up until now, I’ve pointedly ignored that voice. My wiser self takes over and I swim right past it and go trolling for the next pretty thing. But each time I pass that ladder, a shower of acid guilt rains down on my head. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before I’ll have to get out of the pool to get out of the rain.

I’ve been drawn to the sea and the river, the fields and the forests. I know there is comfort and love there. The spirits of those places are calling me to come and sit, rest and learn. To give myself up to “being” instead of “doing.” You would think that would be easy. It’s so not. Most often I turn my eyes to the skies, the territory of the Bird Spirits; it’s to these spirits I am most drawn. And they do not disappoint me; they are always there. When I look, they appear.

But being the life-long human that I am, I sometimes don’t trust the messages I get from the Bird Spirits. Or my dependence on human language gets in the way, and I just feel like I need someone to tell me in plain English: DO THIS. And then the Universe proves that it can communicate in that way as well. This should not surprise me. Why would the Almighty have endowed me with the gift of writing if there was no transcendent good in it?

Knowing that I have been unsure of the place the Universe really wants me to be right now, It sent me this poem, which I came across in a friend’s blog:

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?

Of course, the Almighty is well aware that I have no idea “how to be idle and blessed.” But it sent this assurance, in black and white, that the concept exists; and that others have identified it and lived it without going to hell.

I’m not entirely convinced that I have only “one wild and precious life.” But the one I do have, right here, right now is my immediate concern. And I very much want to know how to fall down into the grass and pay attention.

I believe I’m being given license to do exactly that.

1 comment:

  1. I've seen those last two wonderful lines alone as a quote. I know these things are supposed to make us feel inspired, but often they leave me feeling like a bit of a failure. What did I do TODAY to make the most of my time? The answer is often disappointing.

    Is it superhuman to experience daily life as suggested by this beautiful poem? Very few of us find the way. But every moment we can live making our time special counts. The pressures of modern life make it a challenge. Seems ironic to me that something that seems so simple is far from effortless.