In "The Summer Day," poet Mary Oliver asks, "Tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
During the summers of my childhood, the answers were obvious. Leap over a two-foot ditch, holding a vine and pretending you're Tarzan. Pick and eat sun-hot grapes and raspberries. Lie down in the grass, read and tell stories.
|Summertime is the time for celebration music, like Christian gospel music, Jewish klezmer sounds, sensuous Arabic dance. As you let go with the music, let it heal you and energize your soul.|
|Get out into the world and let it teach you. Give back to the beauty and wonder of the earth by doing more to take care of it.|
|Don't limit the abundant pleasures of summer to the actual season of summer. Live joyously, give and serve joyously throughout the year.|
Remember what it was like when you were young and fearless, before you were able to fully appreciate how precious your life truly is?
As a child I dared to swim in waters that swarmed with jellyfish. I'd go a few strokes, get stung, run to the beach to rub the sting with sand, and run back into the water.
Summer is also the traditional season to celebrate some of life's true pleasures. It's a time to let the juices in the fruit of the harvest dribble down your lips, and to give thanks for the abundance you have, even if there is pain in your life.
I remember a sticky summer day when our stepmother still hoped she would survive colon cancer. We sat on the porch, three generations bound by love if not fully by blood: Violet, my sister Peggy and I, two of Peggy's children andher daughter's fiance.
Just for fun we did a writing exercise in which everyone took a simple phrase and ran with it for five minutes. Peggy, Violet and I all chose, "I remember a picnic." As we read aloud what we had written, three separate viewpoints emerged. We all recalled the picnic where Daddy met the woman who helped us heal from Mama's death and learn to laugh again.
And like the jams we once made to preserve our garden harvests, our writing preserved a moment of great joy. Years later, it's easy to recall the fun we had on that day when it so hot that all we wanted to do was sit and be together.
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