Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This morning we gathered for morning prayer... I decided to read two Mary Oliver poems as prayers. I'd like to share one with you all.

Morning Prayer
by Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches--
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries with it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead--
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging--

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted--

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.


Part of the complicated thing about having grown up in a specific denomination all my life is that I have been taught what is, and what is not. Prayer is this, prayer is not this. This, as you can imagine, has left we quite confused, especially when God the "great genie in the sky" never did give me everything I asked for.

So for a while I had no idea how to approach a conversation with God.

It was during my time at the Oregon Extension that I found that my encounters with God, those times of communication, almost always were happening while admiring the soaring cedars of the pacific northwest, or when I was transfixed by the intricacies of a bird.

I never thought of those moments as prayer. But now I do. Thankfully so does Mary Oliver, and thankfully she can write beautifully about those moments.

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