Sunday Morning

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?

~Mary Oliver, “I Happened to Be Standing” from A Thousand Mornings 

Notes: Poem Source: Thank you Make Believe Boutique. Photo: Seb Rogo


  1. i love this, and think we each express the miracle of just being alive for another day in some way

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It is…perhaps all full-throated songs in the air – both heard and not – are indeed prayers.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Oh to see the world through her eyes and heart! 🌿🌈

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A murmuration followed by a wren ‘positively drenched in enthusiasm.’ Don’t think my weekend can get much better! And Mary Oliver? No words….

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You have nailed it with this selection David. Have a wonderful day.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a touching and beautiful prayer…. Maybe many of us needed this? Thank You, it’s ‘just right’ for this 2nd Advent Sunday.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. cats, possum, trees, wrens teach us how to pray and live. Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
    I don’t know why. And yet, why not.”


    Liked by 1 person

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