Friday, June 17, 2011

Parshat Shelach Lecha: Seeing a grasshopper

 Parshat Shelach Lecha:  Ch. 12:32-33 – “And they spread an evil report of the land which they had spied out unto the children of Israel, saying .  .  .  And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come of the Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”

When the children of Israel saw themselves as grasshoppers, when we see ourselves as grasshoppers, what if we were able to see not with fear, but with exquisite attention.  What if we were to carefully attend to the self that feels small and fragile? What insight would arise? 

The poet Mary Oliver shows us how to look carefully at a grasshopper:
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...
(see Mary Oliver’s complete poem, “A Summer Day,” and the wonderful insight she gains from careful attention at

A wonderful lyrical rendition of that poem sung by Sophia Smith-Savedoff and Emily Hurst may be found at

May we be blessed to see the grasshopper and the world not with fear, but with attention, as part of this one wild and precious life.

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