“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.