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.
A cellist in Sarajevo
once played for 22 days in a row
to honor 22 people who were killed by a mortar
as they waited in line for bread.
When asked “How can you play music
when bombs are being dropped all around?”
He replied, “No, the question is,
how can people drop bombs
when there is such beautiful music?”
Today we paddled our kayaks
across a lake
and into a creek
between canyon walls lush with
willow, alder, cottonwood,
maple, fir, pine,
madrone, oak, cedar
Green upon green upon green
in so many different hues
Bald Eagle greeted us
by swooping over our heads
and hundreds of dragonflies
darted above the water.
Little fish swam just below
and the loudest sound
was the fluting call
of a hermit thrush.
This time on quiet water
among green trees and with
our other-than-human relatives
Because for some unfathomable reason
people do drop bombs
and hurt children
and pretend there is no climate change
and we need to remind ourselves of
what is good and real and beautiful.
There is music.
There is the fragrance of the pines
on a warm summer day.
There is the kiss of our beloved.
There is the laughter of a happy child
as she bounces on our lap
and sings her little song.
There is the fluting call
of the hermit thrush.
If we can keep these in our hearts
we will be strong enough
to go into the belly of the beast
and put out its fire
with the sweet, sweet waters
Spirit of Life, Source of all change:
Now is the time when rain follows sun follows rain
wildflowers carpet the grassy meadows
and new leaves of oaks and maples
are tender and lush on the hillsides.
In the river canyons
turkey vultures and hawks
soar high on updrafts
floating past green upon green upon green.
How is it possible that in a world so beautiful,
anyone would choose to harm another soul?
And yet that is the choice we have made.
That is the choice we have allowed.
Help us make a different choice.
Spirit of Life, we struggle with your call
to choose life.
We struggle to preserve and protect
all that is good and beautiful.
We are mired in circumstances
not of our choosing,
and for some of us it takes all we have
just to get through another day.
But we can be stronger than that.
We can be bigger.
Help us know that we can rise up.
Just as the oak tree feels You
rising up through its trunk
and pushing tender new leaves
out into the clear blue sky
Just as the caterpillar feels You
rearranging its molecules
and making from a soupy mess
a gorgeous butterfly
Just as the salmon feels You calling it upstream
the goose feels You calling it home
and the fern feels You uncurling its spiral
If we will open ourselves wide enough
we too will feel Your love and Your call
and we too will rise up
and we will be beautiful and strong
and we will no longer allow harm to be done
in our names.
Spirit of Life, help us rise up.
Decades from now
when they ask how I survived
and where I got the strength
to help overthrow the regime,
I will say:
I walked among the poppies
on the hillsides above the river
in the company of lupines and redbuds
and butterflies that sipped from lilies.
I looked at new oak leaves showing tender green
against the passionate blue of the sky
and I listened to birdsong in the morning
and frogsong at night.
I noticed pairs of lizards
chasing each other
up and down tree trunks,
squirrels leaping wildly about
and a pair of hummingbirds
rising up together
in their mating flight.
And I then I walked with a toddler
who squatted in fascination
at the edge of a puddle.
She found a stick close at hand
and picked it up and poked it
into the water
then watched, enthralled,
as ripples moved outward
from the point of contact.
Then she vigorously stirred
the water into mud
and threw various items in
to see what would happen:
a pine cone, a stick, a leaf, a rock—
her whole self.
And I could do no less.
Spirit of Life, Spirit of Courage and Connectedness:
Cold winds are blowing hard.
Massive cedars sway
as if they are no more than saplings,
their tops and branches whipping through the air
in a frightening dance:
if one fell it would crush the whole house.
But the cedars know a few things
as do the oaks and the pines and the willows too.
One is that when the harsh winds blow
the trees who bend and sway and dance in the storm
are the ones who live.
The ones who will not dance are the ones
whose trunks get snapped in two.
Another is that those whose roots
go deep into the earth
and join beneath the soil with the roots of others
are the ones who can bend and sway
and dance in the storm
without falling over.
A third is that a tree standing alone
is more vulnerable to the force
of the great winds
than one which lives in community.
Trees are stronger together.
Strength is not the ability to stand alone.
Strength is not the ability to rigidly resist.
Strength is the ability to remain rooted in the earth,
connected with others,
so we can bend and sway and dance
and thereby dissipate the energy of the wind.
Spirit of Life, Spirit of Courage and Connectedness:
In this time when the cold winds of fear and cruelty
blow unceasing through our lands,
open our hearts to these lessons
from the trees.
Spirit of Life, source of all love:
Now is the time when the wheel of the year
tips toward more darkness than light.
One minute the sky is a perfect deep blue
and the next it is filled with clouds.
One minute the air is still and warm
and the next the wind sweeps through the trees.
These are such small and lovely changes;
they happen every year.
Help us lose ourselves in their beauty.
Help us pause for a whole eternity
just breathing in this sweetness:
this autumn air,
this fragrance of leaves and moss,
this gift of life itself.
May we be strengthened by our pause.
May we be strengthened by the beauty.
May we face unafraid all we must do
to serve and uphold life.
Spirit of Life,
Great Ocean of Compassion,
Now the rains begin to fall
and the leaves to show glorious color.
Now begins our time of gathering in,
of making fast.
Squirrels rush to and fro
carrying summer’s bounty
to their secret hoards.
May we ourselves gather
just what we need, and no more.
May we open ourselves
to the knowledge that there is enough.
There is enough love.
There is enough food and water.
There is enough shelter and medicine.
There is enough wisdom and beauty.
There is enough if only we will share.
Grant us the strength to share.