Quiet and Darkness Abound

Spirit of Life,
You who rise in us as the impulse
to light candles in the darkness
and share warmth with those who have none:

Now is the time when the cold rains fall
and shreds of mist cling to treetops
in the canyons.

The last of the yellow dogwood leaves are so bright
they light the forests like lanterns,
and the squirrels grow round
with winter fur.

In the deep forests
quiet and darkness abound.
It is the time of rest
and of waiting.

May we too rest.
May we let quiet fill our hearts
and spill over into the hectic world,
calming all who meet us.

May our being be an oasis of peace
and loving kindness
so we light the way like lanterns.

Blessed be.

 

Thanksgiving Prayer

Spirit of Life, source of all love,
Holy mystery containing all that is:

As the nights grow longer and longer,
help us know you as that radiant darkness
in which our deepest dreams come:
those dreams of love, of healing, of peace,
of our world created anew.

Help us not fear the darkness
but welcome it,
and rest in it.

Help us also know you as the flame
of candles and hearths
around whose warming light we gather
to tell each other stories:

giving thanks for all we have,
remembering those who have gone before,
gathering strength to make justice.

May those among us who have much
be granted vision to see and invite in
those who are lonely,
and may the lonely ones
be granted strength
to accept the invitation.

Blessed be.

Singing a Song of Life

Though the end of November is near
it still has not rained.
Dry winds sweep across the land
swirling dust through vineyards
and snapping trees in the canyons.

What will our relatives have to eat?
Deer reach for what leaves they can find
unconcerned about humans in their place.
Coyote and Mountain Lion are more wary
leaving scat but not showing
their coats.

Hawk shrieks high in the air
wheeling in the dusty smoky sky;
all is brown and gold and painfully dry.

Then on the hillside
there is suddenly red:
California Fuchsia
blooming in profusion,
little red trumpets
singing a song of life.

Here is a miracle
of evolution:
a plant that blooms every autumn
no matter how deep the drought.

Resilience, it seems,
is the very essence of this world.

Life will always find a way.
Life will always find a way.

Let Me Be Saved By Small Things

Spirit of Life, Radiant Mystery,
Source of all that is good and holy:
I confess to a certain weariness of spirit.

Just as we were beginning to recover
from the other disasters,
another shooting.

And since the rains have still not come
the power will be turned off
again.

And people who should love one another
and speak with kindness
or at least civility
are shouting in rage
and flouncing away–
forever!–they say
from their circles of love and support.

What is to become of us?

I long to pray to an omnipotent god
who would fix all this
if we just said the right words

But since that is not an option

I take myself
to the running waters
and listen to their song.

I call my dear friend
and listen to their beautiful voice.

And I sit with a four-year-old child
and read our favorite story.

Salvation is not something grand
heralded with trumpets;

It is instead effected by
a hundred small things:

The good dinner on a beautiful table,
a small child bouncing on your belly,
a dog chewing a bone against your leg.

The way water slides over smooth stone
over and over again but
never exactly
the same way twice.

The way the ravens converse
as they fly over the neighborhood
talking to each other
at the end of the day.

The way moss springs to life
the moment
it is touched
by rain.

Spirit of Life,
let me be saved by these small things.

Blessed be.

 

 

 

 

 

Power Outage

Dear Ones:

I am sorry to vanish for three weeks running.  I know you will understand when you read this week’s post.

Much love to all of you.

Rev. Leisa

 

For a month we have had electricity
only intermittently
which is a problem
when you rely on a well
with an electric pump
for water
and you can’t charge your devices
so you can’t keep up with the outside world
which seems to exist
only at a distant remove.

They have said the reason is to protect us
but if they wanted that
they would have maintained the lines
instead of paying giant bonuses
to the executives.

And even with all the outages
the lines have started fires
not in our neighborhood this time
but in the neighborhoods
of people I love
and it is tinder dry all around us
and any minute now it could all go up
in smoke.

We have our evacuation supplies packed
and the cars pointed out
not that that would help if the tunnel of trees
over our driveway
were on fire.

What is it like?
people ask.

What is it like to live with
the constant threat of fire
magnified by negligence
and not just the threat
but the actuality
when people you love
cannot charge their medical devices
and you can’t breathe
because the smoke
is so thick?

and the power company’s response is
“If you are dependent upon
medical devices that require electricity,
use your own resources
to relocate.”

What resources?
Relocate where, and how?
We are so bewildered.  And angry.

What is it like? people ask.
Fascinated by the disasters of others.

It is like this:
One part of my brain is planning
as if everything will be fine
while another is planning
which photos to take when we evacuate
and where to go
and a third
is exercising constant vigilance.
Between the demands of all three
there is no capacity
to remember details
like where I left my keys so

I have spent hours
searching for  little things
I have lost.

And it is also like this:

I am in the middle of a bad dream
in which the world is coming to an end
because the people in power
refuse to pay attention
to the evidence
right before their noses
The air is thick like molasses
and I can’t get through it
I can’t run
so I try to yell
but my voice won’t come out

You know that kind of dream?  It is like that.
Everything is on fire and I have no power.

It wasn’t always this way,
I try to say.
Yes, there has always been fire
but not on this scale.
It was never this hot
or this dry
for so long.
And the first peoples knew
how to manage fire
and they knew how to manage forests
and they didn’t
run electrical wires
right through tangles of trees
and pay each other bonuses
when the wires
started a conflagration.

I try to say these things
but no one hears
except God

And no one is listening, it seems,
even to God.

 

You… Shining (A Prayer for Yom Kippur)

Great Spirit of Life, Mysterious energy
that moves in and through all things:

Our old unwanted thoughts and habits
lie underfoot like the old leaves
that now begin to fall
on your hillsides.
We may have needed them once,
but no more.

Send the sweet rain
of Your love and compassion
that these old things
may be transformed
into rich soil for new growth.

And as feathery moss awakens
to the touch of rain,
and sends out new, seeking tendrils,
may we be made so fresh, and alive, and alert,
that when we look into each other’s faces
we see… You, shining.

Amen.

The Children Speak of their Dreams

The children speak of their dreams.
They are not of money or power or stardom;
no, this generation dreams of something entirely different.
They want only for life to continue on,
but with justice.
They long for restoration
and peace.

A boy with pale skin and glasses
speaks of his dream
of being a father
and standing under an oak tree that he loves
with his children
and knowing that both will outlast him.

A girl with cocoa brown skin and upswept hair
speaks of her dream
of growing old
and having her skin get wrinkled
and her hair turn gray
and her hands look well used
because she has lived a long life
of love and service.

An Indigenous boy with shiny black hair
speaks of plant medicine
and of restoring what has been lost
and also of bringing the movie theater
and the skate park
back to downtown
so kids will have something better to do
than drugs.

A Latinx girl with hoop earrings and impregnable dignity
speaks of how hard her parents work
to give her what they never had
and how she wants to honor
their sacrifices.
Citizenship for Dreamers,
she says, is only possible
and only worthwhile
if there is a living green place
for citizens.

At the end of each impassioned declaration,
Asian teens with buckets and trash cans
strapped to their bodies
beat their impromptu drums
in agreement.

These young humans know
what many of their elders do not:

That the world as we know it
is ending
and something new is coming
and we have to dream what we want
into being.

And all they want
is to restore the community of life
to which they know ALL belong

—ALL—

so they can love
and live
and raise healthy children
in a healthy community
on a healthy planet
in peace.

Adults:  Let us make it so.

Let This Be The Day: A Prayer For The Global Climate Strike

Photo by Mel Evans, AP

Spirit of Life,
You who body forth as our starry universe
and this luminous, blue-green planet:

Today you shine forth from the faces of the children
who are taking to the streets,
clear-headed and clear-eyed,
to demand that adults act like adults
and take responsibility
for the mess we have made.

Children of all colors and all genders
all ethnicities and all nations
all cultures and all creeds—ALL—
are rising up
together.

They hear Your urgent call
to protect life
and they are acting on it.

May we adults gather our own strength
and our own courage
and do likewise.

Let this be the day everything changes.

Blessed be.

Rage and Love and Songs of Praise

Great Spirit of Life,

I confess that in these past weeks I have been angry.
No, not angry. ENRAGED.
Like a dragon with a belly full of flame
I long to torch everything filthy and grotesque
with my breath.
I would take one vast breath in
and then roar with all my might
and the structures of evil
would become
nothing but cinders
and ash.

The problem with fire
is that it burns everything
indiscriminately.
Once you let it loose,
you have no more say
in what stays
and what goes.

So it might be better
To take as my model
the California buckeye.
Never was there a plant
more lovely
or more perfectly adapted
to a harsh reality.

In early spring it is the first to show new leaves
holding candelabra of green flames
up to the light.
Then in June
it explodes into long showy spikes
of fragrant creamy flowers
rivaling any you might see
in the tropics.
Bees and butterflies
and all manner of pollinators
hover among the flowers
singing praises with their wings.

Then when the season grows dry
the leaves begin to wither
and by August they are brown
and dropping off the branches
and people think the trees
are dying.

But in fact they are merely conserving water.
In fact they are making secret plans
for regenerating.

If, in late summer,  you look up at a hillside
on which there are buckeyes
all you can see is dead branches.
Not until October do you see
the giant seeds
hanging down from long stems
in green cases,
sometimes in pairs
that prompt some people to snicker.

In November
the cases split,
and vast numbers of shiny dark globes
fall onto the ground
and the minute the first rain comes
each sends a white root poking down
into the soil.
Many more fall than actually grow
into new trees.

Yes, I think the California buckeye
is a good model.

Enjoy the times of plenty
but when things get hard and dry
and it seems that life is impossible
drop everything unnecessary
and focus on regeneration.
Make secret plans
for doing what is needed
to birth the next world.
Plant seeds profligately.

Then when things get better,
have a big party.
Wear your fanciest clothes
and invite all beings in close
for love, and songs of praise.

Blessed be.

We Need Only Be

Spirit of Life,
Great immensity of love in which
we live and move and have our being:

Sometimes words fail.
Sometimes the catastrophe is so great
and the pain and fear and bewilderment
are so overwhelming
that we run out of things to say.
It feels impossible to pray.

In those times help us remember
that it is not our words
that connect us to you,
though they can help.
It is not our deeds
that connect us to you,
though they can help too.

No, it is rather that
we can never become disconnected.
Like a bird soaring on an updraft,
we need only be
and we are held in you.
We need only breathe,
and we breathe in you.

I breathe in God,
God breathes in me.
I breathe in Love,
Love breathes in me.

I rest in God,
God rests in me.
I rest in Love,
Love rests in me.

I move in God,
God moves in me.
I move in Love,
Love moves in me.

Help us remember:
we need only be,
and we are held in infinite love.

Blessed be.