in our places

What can we do
but keep on breathing in and out,
modest and willing, and in our places?

– Mary Oliver, from the poem “Stars”

I’m taking these lines out of context, because they are the ones that jumped out at me when I randomly took a book of Oliver’s poems off a shelf this afternoon. If many of my behaviors of late seem random and fruitless and perplexed, at least I do breathe in and out. That is an excellent case of something I do that I can’t really take credit for; God has programmed me to do it. He gives each of us life and breath, and I’m thankful.

One day last week I was given another gift, when Kristi at Thoughts from Thicket House sent me the link to a hymn, “In the Lord I’ll Be Ever Thankful.” She actually linked me to the German “Meine Hoffnung und Meine Freude,” (My Hope and My Joy) which I like even more. I spent two days singing those hymns from morning till night; there is something about the simplicity and redundancy of the lines and melody that I needed as a prayer to carry me along.

I’m in my place, I know it. And I’m working at the willing part.

U horse + G
Wandering on White Horse Hill in England – 2005 (by Pippin)

10 thoughts on “in our places

  1. Your photo — well — lovely.

    “All shall be well, all shall be well… For there is a Force of love moving through the universe That holds us fast and will never let us go. Saint Julian of Norwich ( c.a. 1342-1416)”


  2. I’m so glad that you found the links of use. Actually it is a characteristic of Taize hymns to be short and repeated and I learned most of them during mass at my bil’s retreat house in Germany. He isn’t there as much anymore as he’s turning 88 this year, but those memories are deep in my heart. Are you familiar with Taize or their music? They are a Lutheran group in France.


  3. I am so grateful for those who have put in the energy to make available the music with lyrics on YouTube. My husband’s son called near the anniversary of his father’s death, and while he sat in rush hour San Diego traffic I pulled up my husband’s favorite hymn, “I’ll Fly Away.” We were able to hear the music and I could remind us of the lyrics from the computer. We sang and sang!


  4. I think that the willing part is over-rated, but breathing definitely not. I’d love to wander over White Horse Hill, testimony to so many years of breathing and being.


  5. Singing hymns gives me much, much comfort, especially when I don’t know how to pray. I like the poem excerpt. Thanks be to God for His gifts.


  6. I know how much my soul is quieted when I sing hymns. I always pray that the Lord hears the notes I can’t hit. I also sing very quietly as to not disturb my perfect pitch family. They know how I am going to sing in heaven. 🙂 I love that you have a picture with you and the White Horse. My dream is to go there someday.
    How is it going with the pool? I need to write you a long email. I have been thinking so much about you. I meant to do that this week. At least I can leave you a comment. I am praying for you.


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