Prayers & Prose For Peace

Sky Prayer1

Wild and Precious

“I don’t know exactly what prayer is;
I do know how to pay attention.
How to fall down in the grass.
How to kneel in the grass.
How to be idle and blessed.
How to stroll through the fields
–which Is exactly what I have been doing all day.
Tell me; what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last and too soon?
Tell me; what is it you plan to do with your wild and precious Life?”

—Mary Oliver

Hummingbird 566 239px

Summer Story

When the hummingbird
sinks its face
into the trumpet vine
and the funnels
of the blossoms,
and the tongue
leaps out
and throbs,
I am scorched
to realize once again
how many small, available things
are in the world
that aren’t
pieces of gold
or power–
that nobody owns
or could buy even
for a hillside of money–
that just
float about the world,
or drift over the fields,
or into the gardens,
and into the tents of the vines
and how here I am
spending my time,
as the saying goes,
watching until the watching turns into feeling
so that I feel I am myself
a small bird
with a terrible hunger
with a thin beak probing and dipping
and a heart that races so fast
it is only a heartbeat ahead of breaking
and I am the hunger and the assuagement
and also I am the leaves and the blossoms,
and, like them, I am full of delight and shaking

— Mary Oliver

New England Water Drops 789 439px

Be Good To You

Be yourself, truthfully.
Accept yourself, gratefully.
Value yourself, joyfully.
Forgive yourself, completely.
Treat yourself, generously.
Balance yourself, harmoniously.
Bless yourself, abundantly.
Trust yourself, confidently.
Love yourself, wholeheartedly.
Empower yourself, immediately.
Give yourself, enthusiastically.

Old Woman 566 237px

I Ought To Practice

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

“Warning”, by Jenny Joseph, b. 1932-

Feet Journey Bw 566px

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations –
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – determined to save
the only life you could save.

— Mary Oliver

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