Notes from the Waxhaws


with 3 comments

Hanging on the wall near my front door, is a poem by Mary Oliver…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?

My eyes are getting dry and blurry at times…probably a natural result of the aging process. But, every time I read the last few lines of this poem, for some reason…tears come to my eyes. Probably, a rebuke of how lightly we tend to take this miracle of life…this ‘one wild and precious life’ that we’ve been given.  But, as I go out the door with my tear-moistened eyes…everything is crystal clear…and it’s always a shock to see how beautiful the world is as it lies before my eyes. Every dew drop…every leaf fluttering in the wind…the crystalline blue sky.  Nothing focuses the mind as much as pain and suffering…and loss. Perhaps it is a gift of some sort…a gift that we do not fully understand.

It’s been especially apparent on this spectacularly beautiful autumn day, here in the Carolinas. I’ve spent a greater part of the day sitting on the front porch, taking it all in. What makes a sweet gum a sweet gum…an oak, an oak…a dark green mysterious juniper, a juniper. I hear the wind rushing through short-  and long-leafed pines…the sound of a distant surf…or the cascading flow of a phantom waterfall. I see ladybugs flitting about…feral chickens grazing on the grass…a wren belting out its song from the trees…the call of a red-shouldered hawk soaring somewhere above…dragonflies…yellow-jackets…phoebes…crows. The list goes on…profligate beauty and being…all in this one, tiny corner of the universe.

Sometimes I think that our main purpose here on earth is to be a witness. A witness to creation. We all like to share our insights and experiences with others. It must be a real need. Hence, our books…and our blogs. This creation is much too special to go unnoticed. Someone needs to pay attention…to witness.  Perhaps we are created because the Creator also has a need to share this…and to not let it go unnoticed. Perhaps we are the universe…reflexively looking back upon itself…and seeing that it is good. Very good.

Written by Jim

November 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Yes, Mary’s poetry effects me that way too. Great truth in the little things we observe in nature.

    Tom McCubbin

    November 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm

  2. The Summer Day… has tears in my eyes now, too. The heart-aching question I think we all ask ourselves along the way, probably many times over: “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?” In some way a question asked in preparation and acceptance of an inevitable answer which we all know is yes, at the last all things die and all things that we love always die too, too soon. For life, as we know it, is change and its finality but the last of those changes as we readily know it.

    Yet maybe it isn’t a question asked so much by the woebegone as it is by those of us who are always seeking clarity except when we’re just groping and grasping and floundering about in what truly is a marvelous life in a place which must be paradise. I, too, look to nature and its great mysteries as an affirmation of sorts that God really does exist. The beauty of our world (if we’d be less intent on wrecking it) must be the wordless answer. Somewhere amid the great, inimitable beauty of God’s inexplicable gifts of Nature is the answer I always have that God is and God gives and God is part of us all.

    Jim… you’re always gettin’ me to thinkin’! Thank you. This is a very, very good thing :-)


    November 12, 2013 at 9:20 pm

  3. Well said…Amy :)


    November 16, 2013 at 3:25 pm

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