Saturday 4 December 2021

Sunday 5th December 2021 - Pause in Advent 2


Still on the subject of prayer, here's a Mary Oliver Poem, the second one in this book 

which was a birthday present from my daughter.

I Happened To Be Standing

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?

So I just listened, my pen in the air.

Action - stand outside in the mornings for a few minutes, and listen.

I discovered these tiles in the loft; they were a Christmas present from my Uncle and Aunt back in 1977! 


  1. 'What could this be if it isnt a prayer?'
    That says it all, doesnt it?

  2. That's such a gorgeous poem!