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.
Behold! From before the dawn of time I have been here
I gave birth to stars that swirled away
into spiral galaxies
forming and reforming the molecules of me
into new stars
that died and were born again;
I grew larger and larger, and the stars of me
burst and joined again and again
and their partings and joinings made new elements
that danced toward each other,
and caught, and held on,
and my love made them alive.
Behold! This is all alive and dancing here together
in intricate motion:
a luminous blue-green ball whirling in space
filled with starfish and bats
and grains of sand that once were mountains
and belly-laughing babies and rivers and trains
and eagles and cats
and little buildings filled with people who love me.
Behold! From the dust of long-ago stars
I formed your ancestors
who died and returned unto me to be re-formed
into trees and rocks and soil and grass and YOU.
From air and fire and water and earth
I ripen into fruit that drops into your waiting hands.
I feed you and clothe you and shelter you
with my body,
I quench your thirst with my water,
Behold! This is my body, grown here for you:
See, my round purple eggplants,
my many colored tomatoes,
my fuzzy rosy peaches, my little perfect grapes,
my juicy melons, my vigorous zucchini,
my beans and grains, my leafy greens,
my alluring herbs and spices.
Behold! I have set your table with good things!
Now—this is what I want from you:
Learn to share.
Clean up your mess.
Say thank you.
Spirit of Life,
Source and Sustainer of All:
Now is the growing time.
Life burgeons in a riot of color everywhere we look.
Help us know you
as that force that arranges stardust
into patterns and shapes more astounding
than anything we could ever dream:
green maple leaves, purple lilacs, singing wrens,
clear waters, laughing babies of every color.
Help us remember how holy is your work,
how precious each life.
Help us remember:
it is on behalf of these lives
that we must resist hatred and greed and cruelty
for we are all interconnected
in one vast and living whole.
May we know that
it is possible to resist without violence.
And at the same time,
may we be thankful
that when violence and cruelty do come,
there are those who are willing
to give their lives
to try and stop it.
May we never take their sacrifices lightly.
May we always remember them.
Yes yes we know all about the news but have you seen the way the tall grass is spangled with fallen cherry blossoms? And how the new oak leaves glow translucent pale green against the achingly blue sky? The Ceonothus is exploding with blooms that verily define the color purple, so vivid are they against the glossy dark green leaves, and fat furry bumblebees striped in yellow and black hover busily among the tiny pistils and stamens. Redbuds stretch out limbs clothed in glorious deep pink, wildflowers bloom on hillsides and creek banks, and newts find each other in the cold clear waters. Birds sing Gloria! in the morning and frogs sing of love at night.
Tomorrow we will take up our work again. Today all we are doing is singing praise songs. Today all we are doing is saying Thank You.
(Beloveds: I am traveling this week, so I offer you this reprise of last year’s poem in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., who once wrote that he had worked his whole life to get his people up into the house, “only to learn that the house is on fire.” He was referring specifically to the problem of environmental destruction resulting from unrestrained capitalism. He understood the direct connections between humans and the wider community of life. He understood that for each individual to flourish, the whole community of life must flourish, and for the whole community of life to flourish, each individual must flourish.)
I was meditating on the front porch
in the half-light of dawn
when I saw movement,
which was two bucks coming toward me
on the embankment above the house.
They stopped and stretched out their necks
to the east and blew as if slightly alarmed
but uncertain as to why.
Then a marten hurried westward
at the bottom of the embankment
and as soon as it was by
the deer relaxed.
I had never before seen a marten.
A relative gave us a pot of amaryllis
three dry old bulbs in potting soil.
Dubious, we watered them,
and within a few days
the green tips of leaves were emerging.
Now they are two feet tall and stately,
and juicy stalks that clearly contain flowers
are also growing toward the light.
Soon they will open
to reveal showy scarlet lilies.
The morning after a hard rain
I was in my customary place on the porch
when a shaft of sunlight
pierced the forest canopy
and landed on a little Japanese maple,
which lit up, as every raindrop
on every bare branch and twig
suddenly blazed with reflected light.
Then as if that weren’t enough
a family of birds—
I couldn’t see what kind—
landed in a nearby cedar and
sent forth a glorious fountain
of beautiful song.
My heart stopped,
just for a moment,
and when it started again
my face was full of tears.
These are everyday miracles,
just the kind of thing
that happens all the time—
but how intricate!
So many different kinds of beings,
each with its own beauty,
each with its own gifts,
each with its own power to dazzle,
all interwoven in the same web of life.
May our response to these miracles
and may we therefore
“We are caught
in an inescapable network of mutuality,
tied in a single garment of destiny.
is a threat to justice everywhere.”
—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.