I Happened To Be Standing by Mary Oliver

I HAPPENED TO BE STANDING

By Mary Oliver

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 hand.

I Happened To Be Standing (Writers Almanac)

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