(September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019)
I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can’t really
call being alive.
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.
While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why. And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t. That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.
“I happened to be Standing” © by Mary Oliver
The title of this post is from one of her more well-known poems, “Wild Geese.” She has left us, set out on the next stage of her journey, but, oh, what wonderful footprints she has left behind.
One thought on “. . . The Wild Geese, High in the Clean Blue Air, Are Heading Home Again.”
Wonderful footprints, indeed. Thank goodness we have her works to draw on in the years we have left.