On Waking

In his short book Essentials, the philosopher come poet, David Whyte, writes a beautiful poem which asks us to pause and ponder before we rush into the new day. He draws attention to that moment of waking and what is actually going on within our bodies and mind. In the cover flap of this book we read the following – “Whyte is particularly interested in the way the invisible elements of human life converse with our visible endeavors, and the poems and essays brought together in Essentials read as eloquent dispatches in the manner of an explorer, shining light in unexpected places. Please do not hurry through his lines, take time to slowly wake to what he is saying.

What to Remember When Waking
In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?
David Whyte “Essentials” pub. 2021 Many Rivers Press

Lord God, of day and night,
of morning and evening, hear
now my prayer.
As the rising sun chases away the darkness
and morning light comes with the promise of
a new day, I along with all of creation
give to you, the Creator of all, grateful thanks and praise.
As the setting sun slowly brings to an end the daylight hours,
so darkness wraps around me as a blanket and whispers the promise
of rest.
Holy God, bring comfort to those who fear
the darkness and who find the day full of trouble.
Holy God, bring comfort to those who are restless because
of pain or because of great uncertainty. Remind us
that you care for all the sheep of your flock
and you search for each one until all are safely
gathered . You who are the Good Shepherd, be such for
us, night and day, day and night. Amen.

One thought on “On Waking

  1. What a wise perspective. And what a good reminder of how fortunate those of us are who can wake to a peaceful home after a night of comforting and restorative sleep. What seems as if it should be a right of every human being, is perhaps more of a privilege for a few. Much of the world is not as fortunate when morning brings worry about food, water, work, safety and any number of things we take for granted but should not!

    My days are long by choice. I wake very early in the darkness, my favorite time of day before the sirens begin, before the light shines on the dust, before the neighbors use the lawn edger, before the delivery trucks back up and the warning beeps startle me. Just me and the birds waiting to be joined by other household members! And it is good to look forward to the day, to prepare, to enjoy planning or to not plan at all. These hours are my gift to me and I am immensely grateful to have them.

    This is a beautiful and hopeful poem. Thank you.


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