Monday, June 30, 2008

Feeling Small Is Good For The Soul

I received an email from a neighbor this morning thanking me for a photo I had taken of her ten year old daughter sitting in their magnolia tree. I had shot the photo during one of my evening walks with Edward. It wasn’t the first time the little girl had called to us from her leafy vantage point, and this time I couldn’t resist taking her picture. Her mother spoke of how grateful she was that her daughter valued the old trees all around their home and ended her letter by saying, “Feeling small is good for the soul”. Oh, what a wise statement that is. This little girl is fortunate, as are Edward and I, to share her life with beautiful, venerable trees all around her. As a child, I too shared that good fortune. We lived on the edge of a dense wood and that was where I could be found, always with my dog of course, every day, all day. There is something about wandering around under old trees that sparks the imagination, gently reminding one of one’s place in the grand scheme of things. Feeling small in the face of a wondrous creation does indeed enable a person to arrange their thoughts, their dreams, their lives, in an more enlightened way and that in turn bestows delight to all their days.
Poet Mary Oliver can express the wisdom and wonderment to be found in the nature all around us, infinitely better than I .

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 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?

Mary Oliver