Remembering Those Who Fought & Died, Honoring the Struggle for Peace

Decoration Day — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
… Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon’s sudden roar,
Or the drum’s redoubling beat.

… Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.

You silent tents of green,
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.

Amazing Peace (excerpt) — Dr. Maya Angelou

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

… We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature? We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

… Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

… We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Peace.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

… On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

… We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.

On Memorial Day, I don’t want to only remember the combatants. There were also those who came out of the trenches as writers and poets, who started preaching peace, men and women who have made this world a kinder place to live. — Eric Burdon

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived. — George S. Patton

Only the dead have seen the end of war. — Plato

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. — Mark Twain

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. — Joseph Campbell

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. — Mother Teresa of Calcutta

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. — John F Kennedy

My life is my message. — Mahatma Gandhi

Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed. — Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO

The hunger to belong is not merely a desire to be attached to something. It is rather sensing that great transformation and discovery become possible when belonging is sheltered and true. — John O’Donohue

I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, ‘If he comes, what would you do Malala?’ then I would reply to myself, ‘Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.’
But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’
Then I said I will tell him how important education is and that ‘I even want education for your children as well.’ And I will tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.’― Malala Yousafzai

What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality. — Otto Rank

Let us be kind, one to another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle. — Ian MacLaren, aka Rev John Watson

All my work, my life, everything I do is about survival, not just bare, awful, plodding survival, but survival with grace and faith. While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated. — Maya Angelou


Proud to Be an American (excerpt) — Lee Greenwood
And I’m proud
to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men
who died, who gave
that right to me.

The Times They Are A’Changing — Bob Dylan
… Come writers and critics
Who prophesies with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, Congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

… The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

Meditations on “Spirit”

Advocate to be with you forever. … the Spirit … abides with you … will be in you … because I live, you also will live … I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. — excerpts from Gospel of John 14

Interrelationship — Thich Nhat Hanh
You are me, and I am you.
Isn’t it obvious that we “inter-are”?
You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.

I support you;
you support me.
I am in this world to offer you peace;
you are in this world to bring me joy.

A Little Homily for the Holy Seasons of the Spirit  (excerpt) — Joseph Langland

Through all my childhood I often beheld ragged sparrows
flying upward throughout a series of lesser fallings,
beating their filmy feathers around the nest-clogged barn eaves.
Being no St Francis feeding among the field lilies,

I fell through tumbling air.
It is scarcely daring for birds to begin falling;
then grace is natural. Bedazzling flight
begins in descent until lovelier upswinging
embraces the side-slipping wings.
Then birds fly and heart skips.

Descent is good folly;
therefore, as it is sometimes holy
inasmuch as bird-natural worlds are an expression
in ranges of goodness and omnipresent wickedness,
of bright platonic otherworlds and omnipotent wills …


Adult life is dealing with an enormous amount of questions that don’t have answers. So I let the mystery settle into my music. I don’t deny anything, I don’t advocate anything, I just live with it. — Bruce Springsteen

The world is changed by your example not by your opinion. — Paulo Coelho

Even the smallest person can change the future … — JRR Tolkien

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one. — St Mother Theresa of Calcutta

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Be mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. — The Talmud (303, excerpt)

Tikkun Olam — The Repair of the World: If you see what needs to be repaired and how to repair it, then you have found a piece of the world that God has left for you to complete. But if you only see what is wrong and what is ugly, then it is you yourself that needs repair. — Menachem Mendel Schneerson

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. — Greek proverb

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” & “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever humans endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides … neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” — Elie Wiesel

The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything. — Albert Einstein

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others? — Martin Luther King, Jr.

 


Peace Prayer — St Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Don’t Bother the Earth Spirit — Joy Harjo
Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a story. It is the oldest story in the world and it is delicate, changing. If she sees you watching she will invite you in for coffee, give you warm bread, and you will be obligated to stay and listen. But this is no ordinary story. You will have to endure earthquakes, lightning, the deaths of all those you love, the most blinding beauty. It’s a story so compelling you may never want to leave; this is how she traps you. See that stone finger over there? That is the only one who ever escaped.

Meditations on Presence and Matriarchs

Come into Animal Presence — Denise Levertov
Come into animal presence.
No man is so guileless as
the serpent. The lonely white
rabbit on the roof is a star
twitching its ears at the rain.
The llama intricately
folding its hind legs to be seated
not disdains but mildly
disregards human approval.
What joy when the insouciant
armadillo glances at us and doesn’t
quicken his trotting
across the track into the palm brush.

What is this joy? That no animal
falters, but knows what it must do?
That the snake has no blemish,
that the rabbit inspects his strange surroundings
in white star-silence? The llama
rests in dignity, the armadillo
has some intention to pursue in the palm-forest.
Those who were sacred have remained so,
holiness does not dissolve, it is a presence
of bronze, only the sight that saw it
faltered and turned from it.
An old joy returns in holy presence.

You. Your presence. Why can I not dip into your presence as I dip into sleep, clasp it and bask in it? How hold it? How savour it? It is more than I wanted. And less. — Muriel Ciolkowska

Your true home is in the here and the now. ― Thich Nhat Hanh

Be here now. — Ram Dass

Being fully present isn’t something that happens once and then you have achieved it; it’s being awake to the ebb and flow and movement and creation of life, being alive to the process of life itself. That also has its softness. … This is the process of making friends with ourselves and with our world. It involves not just the parts we like, but the whole picture, because it all has a lot to teach us. — Pema Chodron, The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness

Whether you understand it or not, God loves you, is present in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you and offers you an understanding and compassion which are like nothing you have ever found in a book or heard in a sermon. ― Thomas Merton, The Hidden Ground Of Love

Here both recognizes and demands recognition … In order for something to be handed over a hand must extend and a hand must receive. We must both be here in this world in this life in this place indicating the presence of. ― Claudia Rankine, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
— Mark Twain

My mother said to me, “If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.” Instead I was a painter and became Picasso. — Pablo Picasso

The fastest way to break the cycle of perfectionism and become a fearless mother is to give up doing it perfectly — indeed to embrace uncertainty and imperfection. — Arianna Huffington

Imagine feeling more love from someone than you have ever known. You’re being loved even more than your mother loved you when you were an infant, more than you were ever loved by your father, your child, or your most intimate lover—anyone. … This love is actually part of you; it is always flowing through you. It’s like the subatomic texture of the universe, the dark matter that connects everything. When you tune in to that flow, you will feel it in your own heart—not your physical heart or your emotional heart, but your spiritual heart, the place you point to in your chest when you say, “I am.” This is your deeper heart, your intuitive heart. It is the place where the higher mind, pure awareness, the subtler emotions, and your soul identity all come together and you connect to the universe, where presence and love are. ― Ram Dass, Be Love Now

Mother
Whatever she was to me, she was the human
caught in something she could hardly stand,
she was like a flying singing being,
limed and jessed, a small soprano
of the trees, of ngetal and luis, reed and quickbeam.
No one said I had come from inside her,
yet from where else but that softness and music,
at birth I had stepped somehow back out of that laurel,
into which I had rushed away from my father,
and my mother was like a sister,
in thrall to three fathers
— mine, and hers, and Our Heavenly.
What she took from me she needed,
and much of what I had I had of her gift.
And it was as if I had known her from long before,
from any town square, back to near our beginning,
as if, in her, I met every woman burned with
ruis, coll, uath, saille, duir, beth, fearn, nion —
elder, hazel, hawthorn, willow, oak, alder, ash.
When I look back, I see her in woods,
woods in flower, though when I knew her
she was doing her time in the live grave,
she ate what she could,
coluratura lips pursed around some smaller spirit,
but if I sing, I sing from her.
First I would hear the note struck
on the piano, then her voice, rising toward it,
Druid mother I would hold now
in my boughs and pour forth
a newborn’s caroling.
— Sharon Olds

Meditations on Psalm 23

Language of Hope
Reflecting on Psalm 23 — specifically through its verbs — there’s something for almost everyone. What speaks to you? — Rev. Gail

WANT

It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them. — George Eliot

Want (excerpt) by Gretchen Marquette
When I was twelve, I wanted a macaw
but they cost hundreds of dollars.
If we win the lottery? …
Yes, my mother said. If we win the lottery.
I was satisfied, so long as it wasn’t impossible …

LIE DOWN

A friend is someone who helps you up when you’re down, and if they can’t, they lay down beside you and listen. — Anonymous (proverb)

There is not a person alive who isn’t going to have some awfully bad days in their lives. I tell my players that what I mean by fighting is when … all the odds are against you. What are you going to do? Most people just lay down and quit. Well, I want my people to fight back. — Coach Paul Bryant

RESTORE

Look Out (excerpt) — Wendell Berry
Leave your windows and go out, people of the world,
go into the streets, go into the fields, go into the woods
and along the streams. Go together, go alone.
… saying yes to the air, to the earth, to the trees,
yes to the grasses, to the rivers, to the birds
and the animals and every living thing, yes
to the small houses, yes to the children. Yes.

LEAD

To lead people, walk beside them … As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate … When the best leader’s work is done the people say, We did it ourselves! ― Lao Tzu

Black and White (excerpt)
― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun
I was born into a religion of Light,
But with so many other
Religions and Philosophies,
How do I know which ONE is right?
Is it not my birthright to seek out the light?
To find Truth after surveying all the proof,
Am I supposed to love or fight?
And why do all those who try to guide me,
Always start by dividing and multiplying me –
From what they consider wrong or right?

WALK

If Spirits Walk (excerpt) —  Sophie Jewett
If spirits walk, Love, when the night climbs slow
The slant footpath where we were wont to go,
Be sure that I shall take the self-same way …

FEAR

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we … love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life. — John Lennon

Carrion Comfort (excerpt) — Gerard Manley Hopkins
Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can …
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. ― Plato

COMFORT

I am the breeze that nurtures all things green. I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits. I am the rain coming from the dew that causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life. — Hildegard of Bingen

I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. … There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me. — Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Carrion Comfort (excerpt) — Gerard Manley Hopkins
… I can; Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be. … my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.

PREPARE

We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation. ― Thomas Edison

All things are ready, if our mind be so. ― William Shakespeare, Henry V

ANOINT

ode to coffee
          oda al café
(excerpt) — Urayoán Noel
… anoint the neural vessels we refill
al matorral neural en donde vive …

Killing Him (excerpt) — Yehuda Amichai
… The sound of warm running waters
Filling a white tub of foaming bubble bath
Spills happiness into the heart of the sorrowful listener.
Languidly stretching her body
She slowly, indulgently prepares to anoint herself in oils …

FOLLOW

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. ― Jalaluddin Rumi

If you want to govern the people, You must place yourself below them. If you want to lead people, You must learn how to follow them. ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

DWELL

I dwell in Possibility – (466) —  Emily Dickinson
I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –

Meditations: Locked rooms, open doors

I wish in the city of your heart
you would let me be the street
where you walk when you are most
yourself. I imagine the houses:
It has been raining, but the rain
is done and the children kept home
have begun opening their doors.
― Robley Wilson

Be an opener of doors. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.
― Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in. — Virginia Woolf

A very little key will open a very heavy door. ― Charles Dickens, Hunted Down

If you feel you have to open a particular door, open it, otherwise all your life that door will haunt your mind! … All the doors you ignored or refused to enter represents your uncreated fates!  ― Mehmet Murat ildan

That door had a lot to say, people entered and people left but never the same! ― Jasleen Kaur Gumber

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meaness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whomever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jalal ad-Din Rumi

The same way one tells a recipe, one tells a family story. Each one of us has our past locked inside. — Laura Esquivel

The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend …  ― Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception

For the Yupik, all life was continuous, animal with human with ‘spirit’ and recognizing that continuum allowed them to undergo transformations that we, locked into our disappointingly Cartesian skins, find impossible even to imagine. — John Burnside

… a face is studied like a key
for the mystery of what it once opened …
— C.D. Wright (excerpt) from Floating Trees

It’s human nature that we come in our own flavours, and it doesn’t make sense to write a monochromatic or monocultural story unless you’re doing something extremely small—a locked room-style story. — N.K. Jemisin

I have to live within my memories, within my private universe, and continually return to China, the land where my thoughts are locked. This is a very painful kind of existence, this feeling of nowhereness. — Ma Jian

We are tired of being beaten by policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jails over and over again. And then you holler, ‘Be patient.’ How long can we be patient? — John Lewis

Abrir una puerta nueva sin cerrar la anterior no lleva a ninguna parte. ― Flavia Company, Haru: Un día es una vida

There’s a lot of conflict and darkness inside everybody’s family. We all pretend to outsiders that it’s not so, but behind locked doors, there are usually high emotions running. — Salman Rushdie

People —running from unhappiness, hiding in power — are locked within their reputations, ambitions, beliefs. — Richard Avedon

I was in a form of prison; not necessarily with bars, but I was locked to that machine three days a week, and I couldn’t plan work, I couldn’t plan vacations, I couldn’t plan dinner, I couldn’t plan homework, I couldn’t plan nothing because at the end of the day, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I had to be at dialysis. — Grizz Chapman

Custom is a prison, locked and a barred by those who long ago were dust, the keys of which are in the keeping of the dead. — Robert Green Ingersoll

Pass It On, III — Rachel Hades
… Death makes life shine:
a tiredness, a flickering between
ages, which is each age;
a piling up to tottering
and falling back to sand.
So much for cycle. The front door lock
sticks each fall when we’re first back.
We are advised to oil it.
Olive oil in the keyhole:
again the old key turns.
Once again to meander
… Ideas of the eternal,
once molten, harden; cool.
Oil, oil in the lock.
The old key turns.

The ultimate wisdom which deals with beginnings, remains locked in a seed. There it lies, the simplest fact of the universe and at the same time the one which calls faith rather than reason. — Hal Borland

The living cell almost always contains, locked in its interior, the visible or invisible products of its physiological activity or its nourishment. — Albrecht Kossel

The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination. But the combination is locked up in the safe. — Peter De Vries

Meditations: Risks, Rising & Renewal (Holy Week)

Bread by Helena Minton
The dough rises in the sun,
History of the human race inside it
Orgies, famines, Christianity,
Eras when a man could have his arm
Chopped off for stealing  half a loaf.
I punch it down, knead the dark
Flour unto the light, let it bake,
Then set it on the table beside the knife,
Learning the power,
Cooks have over others, the please
Of saying eat.

The Exodus from Egypt occurs in every human being, in every era, in every year, and in every day. — Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

The Seder nights… tie me with the centuries before me. — Ludwig Fran

from A Short History of Israel, Notes and Glosses By Charles Reznikoff
XI
A hundred generations, yes, a hundred and twenty-five,
had the strength each day
not to eat this and that (unclean!)
not to say this and that,
not to do this and that (unjust!),
and with all this and all that
to go about
as men and Jews
among their enemies
(these are the Pharisees you mocked at, Jesus).
Whatever my grandfathers did or said
for all of their brief lives
still was theirs,
as all of it drops at a moment make the fountain
and all of its leaves a palm.
Each word they spoke and every thought
was heard, each step and every gesture seen,
by God;
their past was still the present and the present
a dread future’s.
But I am private as an animal.

I have eaten whatever I liked,
I have slept as long as I wished,
I have left the highway like a dog
to run into every alley;
now I must learn to fast and to watch.
I shall walk better in these heavy boots
than barefoot.
I will fast for you, Judah,
and be silent for you
and wake in the night because of you;
I will speak for you
in psalms,
and feast because of you
on unleavened bread and herbs.
Bread By Richard Levine
Each night, in a space he’d make
between waking and purpose,
my grandfather donned his one
suit, in our still dark house, and drove
through Brooklyn’s deserted streets
following trolley tracks to the bakery.

There he’d change into white
linen work clothes and cap,
and in the absence of women,
his hands were both loving, well
into dawn and throughout the day—
kneading, rolling out, shaping

each astonishing moment
of yeasty predictability
in that windowless world lit
by slightly swaying naked bulbs,
where the shadows staggered, woozy
with the aromatic warmth of the work.

Then, the suit and drive, again.
At our table, graced by a loaf
that steamed when we sliced it,
softened the butter and leavened
the very air we’d breathe,
he’d count us blessed.

The piece of bread is an ambassador of the cosmos offering nourishment and support … In the Christian tradition … The bread is Jesus. Jesus is not someone, something, that is outside the bread, Jesus is the bread. And with mindfulness, and concentration, you get in touch with Jesus. In Buddhism, we don’t say that, but we say the piece of bread in your hand is the body of the Cosmos. And when you see the sunshine, the cloud, the rain, the earth, everything in the piece of bread, you have seen the bread … A few seconds of mindfulness help you to see the bread as it is, as it is, the body of the Cosmos. Everything is in there. And with that, you put it into your mouth, and you get in touch with the whole Cosmos. You don’t have to think … there’s awareness … there’s getting in touch … there’s a feeling that’s inside. But there is no thinking. — Thich Nhat Hanh

The spiritual task of life is to feed hope. Hope is not something to be found outside of us. It lies in the spiritual life we cultivate within. The whole purpose of wrestling with life is to be transformed into the self we are meant to become, to step out of the confines of our false securities and allow our creating God to go on creating. In us. — Sr. Joan Chittister

Easter By Jill Alexander Essbaum

is my season
of defeat.

Though all
is green

and death
is done,

I feel alone.
As if the stone

rolled off
from the head

of the tomb
is lodged

in the doorframe
of my room,

and everyone
I’ve ever loved

lives happily
just past

my able reach.
And each time

Jesus rises
I’m reminded

of this marble
fact:

they are not
coming back.

Meditations: Sweetness at a cost: syrup from sap, dates from palms, peace from spiritual & political leaders

Date Palm Trinity (excerpt)
— Khaled Mattawa
… Those were my brothers who cowered beneath
the date palm to gather handfuls of fruit,
rubbing each date clean on their sleeves,
chewing softly to savor the taste
as though it were a good omen, and rising
to resume their lives, on their faces
the smiles of those who once were blessed.

 “Anniversaries of War” (excerpt)
— Yehuda Amichai (Translation by Barbara and Benjamin Harshav)

Remember: even the departure to terrible battles
passes by gardens and windows
and children playing, a dog barking.

Remind the fallen fruit
of its leaves and branches,
remind the sharp thorns
how soft and green they were in springtime,
and do not forget,
even a fist
was once an open palm and fingers.

Revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. — Che Guevara

A nonviolent revolution is not a program of seizure of power. It is a program of transformation of relationships, ending in a peaceful transfer of power. — Mahatma Gandhi

They asked Gluskabe “where has our sweet drink gone?” … Gluskabe told them that if they wanted the syrup again that they would have to work hard to get it. — Excerpted from www.firstpeople.us

We must keep these waters for wild rice, these trees for maple syrup, our lakes for fish, and our land and aquifers for all of our relatives – whether they have fins, roots, wings, or paws. — Winona LaDuke

As preacher and teacher, he inverted the quotidian cross, always extolling the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers, and the poor. He pointed out how the everyday was holy. Jesus wore the regular fabric of humanity and by wearing it, he redeemed it. — Diana Butler Bass

You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. – Nelson Mandela

Hope wasn’t a cottage industry; it was neither a product that she could manufacture like needlepoint samplers nor a substance she could secrete, in her cautious solitude, like a maple tree producing the essence of syrup. It had to be found in other people, by reaching out, by opening her fortress heart. — Dean Koontz

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope. — Winston Churchill

My call for a spiritual revolution is thus not a call for a religious revolution. Nor is it a reference to a way of life that is somehow other-worldly, still less to something magical or mysterious. Rather, it is a call for a radical re-orientation away from our habitual preoccupation with self towards concern for the wider community of beings with whom we are connected, and for conduct which recognizes others’ interests alongside our own. — Dalai Lama

Today, Passover is used as an opportunity to reflect on the things that plague our world, to seek justice for the still-oppressed and even to bring together multi-faiths family and friends under the common banner of universal freedom. — “Passover 2011: The Unleavened Basics,” Huffington Post

The demoralisation born of their servitude was at an end; the ransomed people went forth to a sane and wholesome life, to a life of brave and large ideals. — Morris Joseph, “Passover,” Judaism as Creed and Life

A candle in a glass (excerpt)
— Marge Piercy from Available Light
Grandmother Hannah comes to me at Pesach
and when I am lighting the sabbath candles.
The sweet wine in the cup has her breath….
a little winter no spring can melt.

Abruptly All the Palm Trees
— William Jay Smith
Abruptly all the palm trees rose like parasols,
And sunlight danced, and green to greenness gave.
Birds flew forth and cast like waterfalls
Shadow upon shade.

… We stood, our blood as bright and fringed as shawls
Before the beautiful, progressing leaf.

Abruptly all the palm trees rose like parasols,
And green was the green which green to greenness gave.
Dimension crumbled, Time lay down its walls.
And all the world went wading towards the wave.

Meditations: Vigiling, lessons from those who love Lazarus

In being with dying, we arrive at a natural crucible of what it means to love and be loved. And we can ask ourselves this: Knowing that death is inevitable, what is most precious today? — Roshi Joan Halifax, from Being with Dying

When someone we love is hurting or dying … These are often the times that call us to a higher response — to simply bear witness to another person’s life journey — not to engage in it, but to stand beside them in loving support. The focus is not to make the pain go away, but rather to let that person know that they are not alone and that we trust them to do whatever it is they need to do to go through that particular experience. … Sometimes we forget that our job is not to fix the situation at hand, but rather to help lift the burden of the other person by letting them know we care enough to show up.  — Judith Johnson from ‘The Power of Bearing Witness’ on HuffingtonPost.com

Parkinson’s Disease — Galway Kinnell

While spoon-feeding him with one hand
she holds his hand with her other hand,
or rather lets it rest on top of his,
which is permanently clenched shut.
When he turns his head away, she reaches
around and puts in the spoonful blind.
He will not accept the next morsel
until he has completely chewed this one.
His bright squint tells her he finds
the shrimp she has just put in delicious.
Next to the voice and touch of those we love,
food may be our last pleasure on earth—
a man on death row takes his T-bone
in small bites and swishes each sip
of the jug wine around in his mouth,
tomorrow will be too late for them to jolt
this supper out of him. She strokes
his head very slowly, as if to cheer up
each separate discomfited hair sticking up
from its root in his stricken brain.
Standing behind him, she presses
her cheek to his, kisses his jowl,
and his eyes seem to stop seeing
and do nothing but emit light.
Could heaven be a time, after we are dead,
of remembering the knowledge
flesh had from flesh? The flesh
of his face is hard, perhaps
from years spent facing down others
until they fell back, and harder
from years of being himself faced down
and falling back in his turn, and harder still
from all the while frowning
and beaming and worrying and shouting
and probably letting go in rages.
His face softens into a kind
of quizzical wince, as if one
of the other animals were working at
getting the knack of the human smile.
When picking up a cookie he uses
both thumbtips to grip it
and push it against an index finger
to secure it so that he can lift it.
She takes him then to the bathroom,
where she lowers his pants and removes
the wet diaper and holds the spout of the bottle
to his old penis until he pisses all he can,
then puts on the fresh diaper and pulls up his pants.
When they come out, she is facing him,
walking backwards in front of him
and holding his hands, pulling him
when he stops, reminding him to step
when he forgets and starts to pitch forward.
She is leading her old father into the future
as far as they can go, and she is walking
him back into her childhood, where she stood
in bare feet on the toes of his shoes
and they foxtrotted on this same rug.
I watch them closely: she could be teaching him
the last steps that one day she may teach me.
At this moment, he glints and shines,
as if it will be only a small dislocation
for him to pass from this paradise into the next.

Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. … On the other hand, wretchedness–life’s painful aspect–softens us up considerably. … When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose–you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together. ― Pema Chödrön from Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living.

Blessing for the Dailiness of Grief
by Jan Richardson from The Cure for Sorrow
~
Sorry I am
to say it,
but it is here,
most likely,
you will know the rending
most deeply.
~
It will take your breath away,
how the grieving waits for you
in the most ordinary moments.
~
It will wake
with your waking.
~
It will
sit itself down
with you at the table,
inhabiting the precise shape
of the emptiness
across from you.
~
It will walk down the street
with you
in the form of
no hand reaching out
to take yours.
~
It will stand alongside you
in every conversation,
nearly unbearable
in its silence
that fairly screams.
~
It will
brush its teeth
with you at night
and climb into bed
with you
when finally
you let go
of this day.
~
Even as it goes
always with you,
it will still manage
to startle you with
its presence,
causing you to weep
when you enter
the empty kitchen
in the morning,
when you spread fresh sheets
on the bed you shared,
when you walk out
through the door
alone
and pass back through it
likewise.
~
It is here
you will know it best—
in the moments
that made up the rhythm
of your days,
that fashioned the litany
of your life,
the togethering
you will never know
in the same way again.
~
But I will tell you
it is here, too,
that your solace lies.
It will wait for you
in those same moments
that stun you
with their sorrow.
~
I cannot tell you how,
but it will not cease
to carry you
in the cadence that has
forever altered
but whose echo will persist
with a stubbornness
that will surprise you,
bearing you along,
breathing with you still
through the terrible
and exquisite
ordinary days.

Grief does not change you … It reveals you. ― John Green from The Fault in our Stars

“Isn’t it weird … the way you remember things, when someone’s gone? …  all I could think about was that day … It’s even worse when someone’s sick for a long time … You forget they were ever healthy, ever okay. It’s like there was never a time when you weren’t waiting for something awful to happen. … it’s only been in the last few months that I’ve started remembering all this good stuff, funny stuff … I can’t believe I ever forgot it in the first place.”
“You didn’t forget … You just couldn’t remember right then. But now you’re ready to, so you can.”
― Sarah Dessen from The Truth About Forever

You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to. ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate … We misconstrue … We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect the shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. … In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be “healing.” A certain forward movement will prevail … after which this hypothetical healing will take place … Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself. — Joan Didion, from The Year of Magical Thinking

You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp. ― Anne Lamott

Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope. ― Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love

Meditation: Seeing & Not-Seeing

Those things that nature denied to human sight, she revealed to the eyes of the soul. — Ovid

The few wonders of the world only exist while there are those with the sight to see them. — Charles de Lint

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision. — Helen Keller

Blindness
In the fullness of the years, like it or not,
A luminous mist surrounds me, unvarying,
That breaks things down into a single thing,
Colorless, formless. Almost into a thought.
The elemental, vast night and the day
Teeming with people have become that fog
Of constant, tentative light that does not flag,
And lies in wait at dawn. I longed to see
Just once a human face. Unknown to me
The closed encyclopedia, the sweet play
In volumes I can do not more than hold,
The tiny soaring birds, the moons of gold.
Others have the world, for better or worse,
I have this half-dark. and the toil of verse.
― Jorge Luis Borges

A single candle can light a thousand more without diminishing itself. — Hillel the Elder

Our very eyes are sometimes, like our judgments, blind. ―William Shakespeare

No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him … By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true. ― Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

That though the radiance which was once so bright be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower. We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind. — William Wordsworth

Doing as others told me, I was blind.
Coming when others called me, I was lost.
Then I left everyone, myself as well.
Then I found everyone, myself as well.
― Jalaluddin Rumi

To be blind is not miserable; not to be able to bear blindness, that is miserable. — John Milton

What you lose in blindness is the space around you, the place where you are, and without that you might not exist. You could be nowhere at all. — Barbara Kingsolver

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. — Andre Gide

A blind man was riding an unheated train
— Arseny Tarkovsky, translated from the Russian by Philip Metres & Dimitri Psurtsev

A blind man was riding an unheated train,
From Bryansk he was traveling home with his fate.
~
Fate whispered to him so the whole car could hear:
And why should you care about blindness and war?
~
It’s good, she was saying, you’re sightless and poor.
If you were not blind, you’d never survive.
~
The Germans won’t kill you, you’re nothing to them.
Allow me to lift that bag on your shoulder—
~
The one with the holes, the empty torn one.
Let me just raise your eyelids wide open.
~
The blind man was traveling home with his fate,
Now thankful for blindness. Happy about it.

Meditation: drink from the well — wonder & curiosity

I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love. ― Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Wonder by Deakin Dixon
I who flounder in the things of the spirit,
Deep in the things of the flesh, and deep in song.
Burn this self till I can no longer bear it,
Life frenzying my ears like a deep gong –
I, who have not learned to walk as yet
High above men, with dark peace in my eyes,
To walk wisely, knowing only to let
My wise hands covet the trees, desire the skies:
I, abandoned to things bright or ugly,
To all things living, asking bowed or bold,
Marvel at you, wrapped securely, snugly,
In beauty and bearing. You seem strangely old –
Until I suddenly know that you have gone
Through places I have feared to tread upon.

Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.  –  Stephen Hawking

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.  ― Rachel Carson

Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory. ― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom. ― Socrates

Kids think with their brains cracked wide open; becoming an adult, I’ve decided, is only a slow sewing shut.  ― Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.  ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes. All is a miracle. ― Thich Nhat Hahn