Memorial Day Prayer

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.

Blessed be.

Thank You


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.

Her Wild, Wild Beauty

For Rebecca

(Beloveds: You have seen this before, but it is my favorite spring poem, and I wanted to share it again.)

 

I met God again at the river today.

Not in one of Her more glamorous guises,
only as an alder tree.

Only a plain simple alder tree
crouching by the water—you know how they do—
reaching out to dip its lower branches in
with new spring leaves fully unfurled.

Not even a very big alder tree
just a simple small one,
and I contemplated the simplicity of God:
the way God is just there
all the time
in the background
making oxygen
so we can breathe.

And then four swallows swooped in
and rose up
and swooped and dived
and rose up again
in ecstatic aerial ballet

And then a pair of mergansers flew
wings pumping fast and hard
across my line of sight

And then a redbud tree
extravagantly decorated in deep pink blossom
waved its branches a little
and the bright orange poppies
demurely nodded their heads

And I could no longer contemplate
the simplicity of God
but only Her wild, wild beauty.

 

This Great Throng of Life

Spirit of Life, source and ground of our being:

The days come early and stay late now
their colors blue and green,
their fragrance rose and peony and jasmine.
The evenings are long with golden light
slanting through leaves and across fields.
The fluting call of a thrush
descends from high in the trees
and at night the frogs and the crickets
sing of love.

The beauty is so great
it near stops our hearts
and yet at the very same time
little children are being torn from their parents
teens are being shot in their schools
unarmed protestors are being massacred
and sea levels continue to rise.
The list goes on and on.

Spirit of Life, Love that holds all,
we need you now.
It is long past time for us
to pour out into the streets
and do what needs to be done.

And yet we are afraid.
You call us and call us
and we are afraid.

Help us remember Moses.

When G*d called him to lead his people
out of slavery
Moses was afraid
and said he couldn’t do it.
“I don’t speak well,” he said.
“I don’t know how to lead.”
G*d did not say
“Go do it by yourself!”
G*d said
“Then take your brother Aaron.”

Help us remember this
when we hear you calling
and we are afraid:
we do not have to do it alone.

You are with us
and so are all the beings
of this beautiful earth:
the blue skies and the green trees
the fragrant flowers and the birds
the crickets and the frogs
the children with their shining eyes
and our many friends and companions.

In this great throng of life
we are never alone
and we have more than enough power
to be the change we seek.
Help us rise up.

It is time.

Blessed be.

A Mother’s Day Prayer

Spirit of Life, moving source of all we know:

Now is the time when lush green leaves
clothe the oak trees,
Grosbeaks fill the forests
with exuberant song,
dogwoods lift their extravagant blossoms
to the sun,
and children race each other
to the swings.
It is high spring,
a time of glorious beauty.

And yet, as always,
there is pain here.
Even as we celebrate Mother’s Day,
our government is keeping the children
of brown mothers
in cages.

Even as we celebrate Mother’s Day,
black and brown mothers
weep from fear
that their children will not come home
because they have been shot by police.

Even as we celebrate Mother’s Day,
the children of all mothers
are endangered by climate change.

The irony is too much to bear.

Spirit of Life, Source of all love:

Springtime shows us
how much beauty the world offers:
the songs of birds
the colors of flowers
the faces of children.

Each is beautiful
alone
but they are even more so
together
because of the
differences
between them.

Help us be thankful for all this beauty
Help us love the differences

Help us act from our thanks and our love.

Help us act.
Help us act.
Help us act.

Blessed be.

Time Between Storms

Spirit of Life, Spirit of Beauty and of Springtime:

Now is the time when the weather is unsettled,
with showers following sun following rain
and treetops dancing wildly in the wind.

Between rainstorms there is often a day
of sunshine and towering white clouds
when we can roll along in town
and see the little bells of cherry blossoms
hanging from their twigs and branches
so sweetly they make us want to weep
and the camellias so perfectly formed
among their waxy leaves
and the brash forsythia
loudly proclaiming spring.

And we can roll along through the woods
and hear birdsong filling the air
and see the fairy lanterns
nodding on the embankment
and imagine the little folk who came before
and tell stories about them to the children.

Each hollow at the base of a tree becomes a house
for a fairy or a gnome or the Little Fur Child
and we go looking for them together
in the dark and sunny woods
until the sky grows wild and red.

We need time like this:
time between storms.
Time when we rest
from all that disturbs our sleep,
time to sing songs of love
and eat chocolate cake
and lie with our beloved
and cuddle our pets
and play with our children
and take a hot bath:
time between storms.

Spirit of Life, Spirit of Joy and of Springtime:

Help us know that this kind of time
is not a luxury we must earn.
It is not something we must only indulge in
when the work of healing the world
is complete—
no, it is part of the healing.
This is why keeping the Sabbath
is one of the ten commandments.

Help us claim our time between storms.
Help us enjoy our rest.

Blessed be.

(With thanks to Margaret Wise Brown’s The Little Fur Family.)

Present Moment (After Thich Nhat Hanh)

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

Now is the time of great winds dipping into the trees
and stirring them into life;
of fast-moving clouds and sudden showers
of snow and rain;
of squirrels coming back to the ground.

Now is the early spring.

How we long for flowers and green leaves.
How we long for fragrance and color.
How we long to shed layers of coats and scarves
and feel the warm sun on our skin.
But nothing we can do will hurry the season—
life happens on its own time.

So let us let go of our longing for the future.
Let us come into the present moment.
Let us be aware of our breath.

Breathing in, let us calm our bodies.
Breathing out, let us smile.
Breathing in, we calm our bodies.
Breathing out, we smile.

With awareness of our breath
we awaken to this moment
and the beauty all around us.

Blessed be.

(With thanks to Thich Nhat Hanh.)

Easter Prayer

Spirit of Life, you who are the greening of the world:

May we know you as that force which holds
the earth among the stars
and brings the sap rising in the maples.

May we know you as the deliciousness
of the sun’s warmth
and the movement of air
on our faces in spring.

May we know you as the urgent beckoning
that draws salmon up into streams
and eagles back to their nests.

May we know you as that in us
which responds to beauty with awakening
and to suffering with compassion;
which cries out for justice
and draws us together to create it.

In this time of the renewal of life
may we have the wisdom to know
that paradise is here and now
if we will but make it so.

Blessed be.

Ourselves, Growing

Spirit of Life, source of all love:

How wonderful it is that true spring
finally, finally arrives.

Rain is followed by glorious sun
followed by rain again.

New blades of grass poke through
cold soil and old leaves,
reaching for the light.

May we too reach for the light.

May we stretch our hearts and minds and souls
as high and wide as we can reach
and then stretch a little more—
becoming—
ever becoming—
who we always knew we could be:

ourselves,
growing in the light.

Blessed be.

Sometimes it is Necessary

Sometimes it is necessary
to lie on your back
upon the face of the earth
and look up at the sky.

There might be clouds
or there might not.
There might be a bird
or a whole flock of birds
or there might not.

What is important is looking up.

Today I watched wisps of cirrus clouds moving fast
across a field of ultramarine blue
framed all around by the tops of trees:

a pine, sighing in the breeze
the cone shapes of cedars and firs
bare branches of oaks in the spaces between.

All winter long I have lain on my back
and watched the trees move against the sky,
wanting to know what they were writing there.

Today there were leaf buds on the oaks.

(March 2016)