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?

– Mary Oliver

Prayer and Breath

Prayer dilates the airways of the soul. To pray is to breathe. Adoration, blessing, petition, and thanksgiving – all are the inhalations and exhalations of the spirit. We become blue in the lips, congested and asthmatic. Without these respirations, a tubercular lassitude takes hold.

Prayer is air. The windows are thrown open. We are released from a smothering asphyxia and our breaths ascend. They rise like incense smoke. They surround the foundations of heaven with the vapor of creaturely love.