Dare to Be Happy, Dare to Pray

Sunrise Turner

Joseph Turner, “Sunrise, with a Boat between Headlands”

Mary Oliver is my go-to-poet when I’m looking for a spiritual poem at a time of year when the weather is as breathtakingly beautiful as it is right now. Here’s one for those who have it in their nature to be happy and, even more, for those who feel weighed down, as if by lead, by the thorn of depression. (I think of the Shelley lines, “I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed.”) Oliver assures you that the earth is exactly what you want.

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it 

the thorn
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted — 

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning, 

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

from Mary Oliver, Dream Work, Atlantic Monthly Press(1986)

 

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  • Thank you for this post – lately I’ve been thinking a lot about literature for depression/anxiety, and this poem makes a perfect addition. I also love that Turner painting. Best wishes, Lucy

  • Barbara

    Lovely, Robin! Thank you! This reminds me its time to reread some of Oliver’s poetry, once the semester winds down.

  • Barbara

    And here’s a link to another sacramental poem for Sunday, courtesy of my friend Sandra who shared it on Facebook. Blessings, Barbara

    http://radianceandmist.tumblr.com/post/48790931935


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