Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't Panic, Have Faith

Hello everyone!  I hope you are well.  Graduation is around the corner, and I must admit that I am rather nervous.  This morning, I was contemplating the things that I hope to do post-graduation.  I imagined the possibilities of me not accomplishing those goals and became a little discouraged.  Fortunately, however, while selecting a poem to present to you today, I came across a poem that brightened my mood and relieved my anxiety.  The poem is written by Mary Oliver and is entitled, “Little Summer Poem Touching the Subject of Faith.”  I hope that after reading it, you too find it uplifting. 

Little Summer Poem Touching the Subject of Faith by Mary Oliver

Every summer
I listen and look
under the sun's brass and even
into the moonlight, but I can't hear

anything, I can't see anything --
not the pale roots digging down, nor the green stalks muscling up,
nor the leaves
deepening their damp pleats,

nor the tassels making,
nor the shucks, nor the cobs.
And still,
every day,

the leafy fields
grow taller and thicker --
green gowns lofting up in the night,
showered with silk.

And so, every summer,
I fail as a witness, seeing nothing --
I am deaf too
to the tick of the leaves,

the tapping of downwardness from the banyan feet --
all of it
beyond any seeable proof, or hearable hum.

And, therefore, let the immeasurable come.
Let the unknowable touch the buckle of my spine.
Let the wind turn in the trees,
and the mystery hidden in the dirt
swing through the air.
How could I look at anything in this world
and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart?
What should I fear?

One morning
in the leafy green ocean
the honeycomb of the corn's beautiful body
is sure to be there.       

I hope you enjoyed reading the poem.  Here is what I think it could teach us:

Sometimes when we are faced with daunting situations we automatically imagine the worst-case scenario.  After months of studying, you are to take the MCAT in a few days.  You take a practice test and do poorly.  You predict that that you will perform similarly or even worse on test day.  Or, you are an attorney and will be defending a major case soon.  As the court date draws nearer, you start to doubt your preparedness.  Will you be able to convince the jury to vote in favor of your client?  What if the opposing attorney has gathered supporting evidence that will completely destroy your case?  Perhaps, you are accompanying a close relative to a doctor’s appointment.  Your relative, a cancer survivor, is visiting the oncologist to see if the cancer is still in remission.  While waiting to hear the results, you imagine, what if the cancer has returned?

When we imagine the worst-case scenario, we usually have an adverse physiological response.  Our heart beats faster, our breathing becomes heavier, our palms become sweaty, and we are on the verge of trembling, all signs that we are panicking.   

However, Oliver tells us that when frightening situations loom in our view, we should save ourselves the panic and not imagine the worst-case scenario.  Instead, she recommends that we simply have faith in knowing that things will work out. 

Thus, when we find ourselves facing that scary situation, we must remember to calm our nerves and think positively. Like Oliver had faith that things were growing although she could not see them grow, we must have faith that in the end things will work out, regardless of the outcome of our situation.  We must remind ourselves that although our situation may be within our control, the future, though unpredictable, will ultimately arrange things as they should be.  Therefore, we needn’t worry. 

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