The Question We Ask Each Morning

The poet, Mary Oliver, wrote:

“Every morning

The world is created…

The heaped

ashes of the night

turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches…”

It’s night and the world outside my window is so dark. There is no moon that I can see, and my house is surrounded by woods with no streetlights. But inside, I am lucky. There is another sort of light. My three cats sleep on the bed with me. Two are siblings. Tara, the female, sleeps with her head tucked in her brother’s belly. My wife is changing into sleep clothes.

Such trust is here, such vulnerability to each other, that I almost can’t believe it. We do more than keep each other company. We provide the most meaningful light. Together, we release the day and all tensions and questions. We let go of everything except for this moment that we share together. And with great extravagance, we will hopefully let go and sleep.

And in the morning… Even though it is still winter, and snow covers the ground, I am awakened early by bird calls. So many species of birds are calling at different volumes and qualities of sound that I feel the earth itself is speaking. Blue jays and crows cry the loudest. But there are also chickadees, woodpeckers, mourning doves, and cardinals.

My wife is dressed. One cat is still sleeping. The other two are sitting by the picture window looking out. The light shines so brightly it almost hurts my eyes, until clouds pass overhead and dull it.

Each morning asks us the same question, whether we listen or not: what kind of world will we create today?

Sometimes, it might seem like the day is set for us and we have little say in it. Sometimes, the day can seem so overwhelming that we don’t even hear the birds or see the snow. And when we do hear the birds, we hear their cries as no different than the alarm we might use to get up, as something to turn off once we awaken to the rush and structure of the day.  Sometimes, all we ask ourselves is can we get out of bed. Can we put our pants on standing up or must we sit down to do it?

But other times, all those appointments and tasks and meetings are merely the way the world greets us. They are the trees, birds, buildings and streets that accompany us, the clay that we shape into a vase to hold the flowers or weeds that grow from our actions.

Sometimes, we can recognize the truth of what we feel and see ⎼ and hear the same going on in others. It is those days⎼ or is it moments⎼ that give us the strength to reach out and turn even the ugliest of days into material to learn from. Sometimes, we remember that the world we create, that we tell others about and share on social media and texts, or in the meeting of eyes, is one that we have a hand in fashioning.

And whether that world be ugly or beautiful or a song we all sing together, it is our song that we sing. And any actions we take must protect and express that truth.


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