Arise and shine

Do you remember reading Shakespeare for the first time? The sudden jolt of recognition: Ah! That’s where that came from!

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”
“To thine own self be true”;

both of them written as pieces of hackneyed paternal advice from Polonius, made famous by Hamlet and read for school, years ago.

Truth be told, the same thing sometimes happens sometimes in reverse with Bible verses, or liturgical themes. It wasn’t until I was in the ordination process and repeating it week after week that I finally and suddenly recognized my mother’s familiar, “Rise and shine!” as the Canticle for Morning Prayer on a Wednesday, coined not by a working woman but by the prophet, Isaiah, whose oracle has ever since elevated the memory of my mother’s alarm into something sublime.

The following was first posted in 2015:

On Wednesdays, I think about my mother.
Arise, shine, for your light has come,
the daily morning prayer declares, on a Wednesday.
I hear my mother calling, “Rise and shine!”

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you
I see my mother breaking eggs into a pan, yellow
sun set upon a liquid horizon. She sings
some operatic nonsense in a language
neither of us understands.
Her face dances with the music.
I wish I could show you her smile.

My mother would not cook eggs on a Wednesday.
Towards the end, she rarely sang.
Arise, shine, for your light has come.
The glory of the Lord has dawned upon you

The Revd Rosalind C Hughes is the Rector of the Church of the Epiphany in Euclid, Ohio. Her first book, A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing is due to be published by Upper Room Books in April, 2020.

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