Sunday afternoon, while we were babysitting the grandchildren at our home, I suggested to my granddaughter that we lie down together on my bed for a little rest. At two and a half she’s reluctant to sleep any place other than her own crib in her own bedroom in her own home. Since I was also using the downtime at home to finish up laundry that had piled up somehow, I promised her that if she would lie down and wait until I fell asleep, then afterwards we would walk down to her house and she could take her nap in her own bed.
I pulled the shade against the brightness of the sunshine outside to darken the room a bit. While I never did actually fall asleep, I did get into that comfortable state of “drousing,” the place you are when the mind is peaceful and content, when things to be done today, tomorrow or next week soon fade away. It’s as close to meditating as I’ve ever gotten. All of a sudden, from outside the windows, came one of the sweetest sounds to be heard on a Sunday afternoon, the sound of small birds chirping.
I lay there with my eyes closed. A favorite poem, one I had not thought of in quite sometime, popped unbidden in my head. I’ve been collecting copies of my favorite poetry in a box since I was about 12 years old, and first read this poem in a magazine supplement to a Florida newspaper more years ago than I can remember. Some of you may remember it as well. I offer it here for your own “anytime worship” and enjoyment. (By the way, just as I’d thought, the “watch grandma sleep” ploy worked very well indeed.)
Morning Worship by Mark Van Doren
I wake and hearing it raining.
Were I dead, what would I give
Lazily to lie here,
Like this, and live?
Or better yet: birdsong,
Brightening and spreading —
How far would I come then
To be at the world’s wedding?
Now that I lie, though,
(Oh, but not forever,
Oh, end arriving)
How shall I praise them:
All the sweet beings
Eternally that outlive
Me and my dying?
Mountains, I mean; wind, water, air;
Grass, and huge trees; clouds, flowers,
And thunder, and night.
Turtles, I mean, and toads; hawks, herons, owls;
Graveyards, and towns, and trout; roads, gardens,
Red berries, and deer.
Lightning, I mean, and eagles; fences; snow;
Sunrise, and ferns; waterfalls, serpents,
Green islands, and sleep.
Horses, I mean; butterflies, whales;
Mosses, and stars and gravelly
Rivers, and fruit.
Oceans, I mean; black valleys; corn;
Brambles, and cliffs; rock, dirt, dust, ice;
And warnings of flood.
How shall I name them?
And in what order?
Each would be first.
Omission is murder.
Maidens, I mean, and apples; needles; leaves;
Worms, and planers, and clover; whirlwinds; dew;
Bulls; geese —
Stop. Lie still.
You will never be done.
Leave them all there.
Old lover. Live on.