Life is beautiful. It is precious and it is great to be alive. In most lives, there are more times of joy and happiness rather than of tears and sorrow. And in the few lives where sadness seems to reign without surcease, there are still moments of laughter and gladness. And the wonder of it all is that there is no compelling reason why I should be here – alive. The universe can very well exist and be without me. Why then am I here, instead of not being here?
I cannot believe that I am here entirely by chance. And that would be sad and truly tragic. I was conceived at the height of an orgasmic ecstasy. In that supreme moment of love-making, my parents willed me into existence. I was their intended. That is why I am here. Still, there is more to life than the fulfillment of my parents’ rapture. Am I not part of yet a bigger picture? There are stirrings in me that point to something more and better as my life unfolds. Even in my advanced years, there is that consuming inner feeling that the best is yet to come.
There is this poem “Summer” by Mary Oliver. I particularly love her last line: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I mull over her poem this morning as my prayer for today –
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?
It is I who deal death and give life.
Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?”