Mary Oliver’s last book, Upstream, is here at the top of the pile by my Blue Chair. Have you read it yet? I’m inspired by the declaration that she placed carefully on Page 8, “Attention is the beginning of devotion.” That placement was clearly very intentional on Mary’s part, so I sat up and took notice when I read it. I’ve thought a lot about attention over the years, and I feel the intensity of her writerly gaze leap up from the page there, for I have never thought of attention as devotion before. So holding the idea that attention is the beginning of devotion, I turned towards what has captured my attention of late. Summer, in all its warmth and glory has expanded my heart. The cycles inherent in life have been on my mind. I’m starting to see clearly that our very well-being is dependent on our developing effective ways to attune-to and work-actively-with the cyclical nature of the gorgeous raucous. Yes, and attuning is a sensitive activity. It is a series of often small, responsive moves that generate a life enhancing coherence. I dare say, it is the feminine in devoted action.
Summer is the fullest expression of the gorgeous raucous. Especially, here at the 45th Parallel North, we look forward to it all year and — just like with lottery winnings or rainbow money — we spend it many times over in our imaginations. The abundant apex of daylight hours that nature tenders to us all on the Summer Solstice (15 hours and 37 minutes) has a demanding invitation in it. “Grab hold of this! Enjoy this! Use it well!” The natural world splendidly orients toward responding to this invitation. In the clock-time trance of our linear calendars, the comfort of climate controlled four walls, and the tyranny of our checklists; we humans leave a lot of that warmth and sunshine out of consideration. This constitutes is a lack of attunement.
So as you hone your summer plans here a few questions to devote some attention to if you would like to attune to the gorgeous raucous:
Is there a seed-longing that I’m harboring that requires the warmth and sunshine of summer?
Is there an opportunity I’d like to seize?
Is there a new rhythm, ritual, or routine that I’d like to put in place with the buoyancy that summer affords?
Is there a “cat” I’d like to be sure hang out with in the sun?
What did I most enjoy about summer as a child, and how might I dip back into those experiences somehow this summer?
When the autumnal equinox rolls around — when the daylight hours have waned back to 12 hours and 7 minutes and the air has gone crisp — what might I regret about how I spent the summer that could be attended to now with a little planning and intentionality?
Looking back over my responses to the questions above , in what way can I attune my plans for the coming months to the invitation of summer?
The summer invites us to slow down and to seize the day all at once. It requires holding the exquisite polarity of claiming life and releasing our grip on it.
Devote yourself to splendid. You might find it will require being fierce about freeing your attention from the linear trance to whatever degree you can. In the gorgeous raucous splendid is splendid, however small or grand.
Please be brave enough to tune in to your deepest longings . . . And remember to make breakfast. Make love. Make some trouble on behalf of beauty, truth, and goodness.
And thank you for the precious attention you gave to reading this post! Lyedi