"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Morning Song

When I awake this morning, awareness filtering into unconsciousness like cream into black coffee, my eyes seek the red light orientation of my clock. 8:30, the squared numbers announce. For a minute I'm confused. 

Usually the only 8:30 I see is at bedtime when I'm willing the clock to hold still while I try to find my way into eight hours of sleep that is now impossible before the alarm goes off at 4:00.

This is a different 8:30. I hear the hallelujah chorus of robins calling light into the darkness, both for this day and for the season. It's morning. It's spring. I've slept for something like ten hours. The house and my spirit are both quiet. It's a school day, but two previous nights of broken, restless and insufficient sleep were enough for this to be declared a sick day. Except that I feel more well, more whole, more myself, than I have in a week. Than I have in months.

The storm of grief seems to have passed. One last flurry of frozen despair before winter gave way to spring.

I go about my usual morning routine with no sense of urgency, which makes it even more delicious and satisfying. Journal, meditate, read. Toby's sleeping quietly unaware outside. Emma's purrs set up a soft vibration on my lap. My hands enjoy the warm water feel of her fur.

 Mary Oliver has been a part of my mornings for months now. I can't quite say how it happened, but her poems have become Voice of God. They offer comfort, inspiration, and encouragement in specific, no-accidents language that imbues my days like holy incense. This morning I open a new book and this is the poem that greets me:

North Country

by Mary Oliver

In the north country now it is spring and there
is a certain celebration. The thrush
has come home. He is shy and likes the 
evening best, also the hour just before 
morning; in that blue and gritty light he
climbs to his branch, or smoothly
sails there. It is okay to know only
one song if it is this one. Hear it
rise and fall; the very elements of your soul
shiver nicely. What would spring be
without it? Mostly frogs. But don't worry, he

arrives, year after year, humble and obedient
and gorgeous. You listen and you know
you could live a better life than you do, be
softer, kinder. And maybe this year you will
be able to do it. Hear how his voice
rises and falls. There is no way to be
sufficiently grateful for the gifts we are 
given, no way to speak the Lord's name
often enough, though we do try, and

especially now, as that dappled breast
breathes in the pines and heaven's
windows in the north country, now spring has come, 
are opened wide.

Thank you, Mary for your words of hope and affirmation. Thank you, robins, for your song of spring. Thank you, morning, for always arriving, no matter how long or broken the night.

photo from Flickr


M said...

Once again...such beautiful writing (and I'm talking about yours, not necessarily the poets, though it is beautiful as well). I'm thankful you got a great night's rest...and that you continue to hear the voice of God around in all of His creation.

Know that I'm loving you.


kario said...

So sorry that you've been struggling, my friend. But I am so pleased that you gave yourself a sick day and it turned out to be this day. This sunny, Spring day.

Love you.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

I'm so glad to hear there's been an internal, as well as external, shift! Love this: "When I awake this morning, awareness filtering into unconsciousness like cream into black coffee." When is your Spring Break?

Kathryn Magendie said...


The spring birds are here....lovely lovely lovely...


She said...

I love Mary Oliver, but I love you more!

I so understand the grief feelings. Glad to hear yours have shifted.

Love you!

Jerri said...

Truly beautiful, Deb. As always.

I've been struggling with sleep, too. Tonight I took a hot bath with Epsom salts and my body feels more relaxed and loose than it has for ages. Maybe that could help you, too.

Thanks for the Mary Oliver and the photo. It's so good to hear the sadness is lifting.

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Juliana Lightle said...

Found this via a class I am taking with the SCN and the first poet we are reading is Mary Oliver. Mary Oliver apparently does not "ring true" for me like she does with you and lots of other people. Nevertheless, I wanted to tell you I like your blog and that I might link to it on my blog because I plan to blog about my experiences taking the class.