Every morning, so far.

“When I lay prostrate in despair, Thou hast raised me to keep the morning watch.” That is a line from morning prayers in our prayer book, the first clause of which used to seem a little over-dramatic. No more. I’ve been realizing that it is my default setting, to wake up with a sort of dread, wondering how I will meet the needs of the day, Little Me?

Step by step, that’s how. First, get out of bed, because nothing will get better, nothing will be accomplished if I don’t take that first step. Although lately it seems the first step has been moved back to a moment before, with a confession to myself, “You, GJ, are lying prostrate in despair, but God is about to raise you up to keep the morning watch.” Then comes the stepping out on to the floor.

Maybe this poem, in spite of its mention of spiritual patience, is not really about any of this, but the “every morning” heartens me.


by Mary Oliver

Isn’t it plain the sheets of moss, except that
they have no tongues, could lecture
all day if they wanted about

spiritual patience? Isn’t it clear
the black oaks along the path are standing
as though they were the most fragile of flowers?

Every morning I walk like this around
the pond, thinking: if the doors of my heart
ever close, I am as good as dead.

Every morning, so far, I’m alive. And now
the crows break off from the rest of the darkness
and burst up into the sky—as though

all night they had thought of what they would like
their lives to be, and imagined
their strong, thick wings.

11 thoughts on “Every morning, so far.

  1. At our homeschool meeting this week there was a good presentation about depression and its causes, treatment, etc. All the while I was being thankful for you who taught me that putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next thing God called me to do, was a thing of faith. Faith that He'd see me through and use me and that things would get better. Which they always do!


  2. I love the part about the crows thinking all night what they would like to be, and lifting up on their thick, strong wings! And her statement about the doors of her heart . . .


  3. As always, good stuff. I am a “pop out of bed” type of person, so I don't usually feel despair in the morning, although this particular morning, I lay in bed a half hour longer than usual, just tired.

    I liked the part about the crows.


  4. GJ, I wake up the same way. It's worse in the winter. I wish I were like Jody and popped out of bed in the morning–in fact, I often wonder what life would be like if that were the case. What I've started doing recently is recall Paul's exhortation–in everything, give thanks–and say thank you, thank you as I get out of bed. Sometimes it helps.

    Thanks for the M.Oliver poem. beautiful!



  5. I loved this poem and the imagery. Our pastor said something in his sermon yesterday that will change the way I look at my life from now on. He said, “The biggest problem you'll ever have has been taken care of, so that makes all your other problems very small by comparison. Your eternal salvation has been procured by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

    I, too, struggle with depression from time to time; sometimes it's caused by not enough Vitamin D and sometimes it's a lack of gratefulness on my part. Whenever I start focusing on myself more than I should, I feel myself shrinking inward. I look too much in and not enough out and up.

    Whatever the cause of your lack of get-up-and-go, I pray you find it out. I love your thoughtful posts, Gretchen and am enjoying getting to know you as a fellow muse. God bless and keep you as you walk this wearisome road. You have many beside you!


  6. I call that first thought as I first wake 'the wild animals'. I think C.S. Lewis had a reference to something similar once.

    But you call it the default.

    Once I spend several weeks/months trying to change that default by declaring before I went to bed that I would wake up with 'vitality and good humour'.
    It worked. But I see that I've slipped back into that old default.
    Time for reprogrammaing.

    Oh Gretchen, I am SO glad I found you. You are writing those things here that really speak to me, as you are putting into words what I haven't been able to…yet.

    Blessings and thank you!


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