August has arrived, which means that summer is two-thirds over. For those of us who love summer, that can be a rather unsettling thought. So, I choose to focus instead on the fact that we still have one third of summer left to go – still more time to spend with family and friends, indulge in at least an occasional lazy summer afternoon, carve out a couple of days at the beach, catch up on that “to read” list, and, otherwise, slow down a bit.
To ease us into summer, on the last Saturday afternoon in June, Pastor Ellen held a summertime retreat. The afternoon provided those of us who were able to participate time to slow down, catch our breath, and reflect – a luxury in our all-too-over-scheduled lives.
For our Lectio Divina that afternoon, she selected Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day,” which is arguably Oliver’s best-known poem. Oliver, who died earlier this year, wrote the poem in 1992. Over time, the last two lines have taken on a life of their own in everything from a variety of commercial products to Harvard Business School essays. Many of us can, no doubt, easily recall them.
But on that June afternoon, Pastor Ellen suggested that we not focus on those last two lines. Rather, she urged us to see what other line in the poem particularly resonated with us. Experiencing the poem in that way was an intense and illuminating experience. As we enter this last third of summer, I am rereading “The Summer Day” in that contemplative way to see whether the same line or a different one speaks to me now. I am including the poem below with the thought that you, too, might read it slowly, meditate on it, and discover what line speaks to you on this summer day.
by 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 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?
This last third of summer here at Cleveland Park Church means we get to hear Kerwin Webb, our July preaching fellow, one more time on August 4 and engage with him in another coffee hour conversation, this one on “Lasting Legacy.” We then welcome Pastor Ellen back from vacation.
Here’s wishing us all a splendid August.
Peace and Joy,
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Choir Practice, 9/4—Regular Wednesday choir rehearsal resumes at 7:30 pm. Interested in joining us? Contact music director Dorothy Mora at email@example.com.
Sunday School Volunteer Orientation, 9/7—Each Sunday during the school year, one adult volunteer assists Lead Teacher, Kimberly, with PreK thru 3rd Grade. She does the planning; you show up and help! If you can volunteer (even a few Sundays), please attend this orientation, beginning at 11 am. RSVP: Mirabelle, firstname.lastname@example.org
“Everyone Can Sing!” 9/8—All are invited to experience a Sunday with the choir. We’ll gather at 9 am for coffee and treats, followed by a 9:30 rehearsal and 10:30 worship service. If you can talk, you can sing, and we’d love to hear your joyful noise!
Welcome Back Sunday & Harvest Lunch, 9/8—We’ll gather for a celebratory Sunday after a summer here and away. During Coffee Hour, the Deacons will treat us to a Harvest Lunch, so plan to stay and enjoy.
Capital Campaign Fall Expense Vote, 9/8—We’ll meet very briefly after worship to vote on an urgent infrastructure expense. Please stay in the sanctuary to vote, followed by the Harvest Lunch in the parlor.