Leaves of Faith

Remember That There Is Meaning Beyond Absurdity

I would say to young people
a number of things, and I have only one minute.

I would say — let them remember
that there is a meaning beyond absurdity.

Let them be sure that every little deed counts,
that every word has power,
and that we do — everyone — our share
to redeem the world, in spite of all absurdities,
and all the frustrations, and all the disappointment

And above all, remember that the meaning of life
is to live life as if it were a work of art.

- Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

When Death Comes

When death comes like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes like the measles-pox;

when death comes like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything as a brotherhood and a sisterhood, and I look upon time as no more than an idea,and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

-- Mary Oliver

Forgive Us

Forgive us that often we forgive ourselves
so easily and others so hardly;
Forgive us that we expect perfrection
from those to whom we show none;
Forgive us for repelling people by the
way we set a good example;
Forgive us the folly of trying to
improve a friend;
Forbid that we should use our little
idea of goodness as a spear to
wound those who are different;
Forbid that we should feel superior
to others when we are only more shielded;
And may we encourage the secret
struggle of every person.

- Vivian Pomeroy

From the Gates of Repentance

For the sin of silence, For the sin of indifference, For the secret complicity of the neutral. For the closing of borders, For the washing of hands, For the crime of indifference, For the sin of silence, For the closing of borders. For all that was done, For all that was not done, Let there be no forgetfulness before the Throne of Glory; Let there be remembrance within the human heart; And let there at last be forgiveness When Your children, O God, Are free and at peace.

I don't know Who -- or what -- put the question

I don't know Who -- or what -- put the question, I don't know when it was put. I don't even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone --or Something --and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.

- Dag Hammarskjold

Mother's Day Proclamation

Author: 
Julia Ward Howe

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

There Must Be Religious Witness

Author: 
Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker

In the midst of a world marked by tragedy and beauty there must be those who bear witness against unnecessary destruction and who, with faith, stand and lead in freedom, with grace and power.

There must be those who speak honestly and do not avoid seeing what must be seen of sorrow and outrage, or tenderness, and wonder.

There must be those whose grief troubles the water while their voices sing and speak refreshed worlds.

There must be those whose exuberance rises with lovely energy that articulates earth's joys.

There must be those who are restless for respectful and loving companionship among human beings, whose presence invites people to be themselves without fear.

There must be those who gather with the congregation of remembrance and compassion, draw water from old wells, and walk the simple path of love for neighbor.

And, there must be communities of people who seek to do justice love kindness and walk humbly God, who call on the strength of soul-force to heal, transform, and bless life.

There must be religious witness.

Beatitudes for Justice Builders

Author: 
Rev. Lindi Ramsden

Blessed are you who can question your own assumptions and listen with an open mind; you will receive new insights beyond your imagining.

Blessed are you who suffer the attacks of others to stand up for what is right; you will not be alone, for your courage will inspire others to rise.

Blessed are you who build friendships as well as justice; even when you lose an issue, you will have strengthened the foundation of your community.

Blessed are you who take delight in people; you will not be bored in meetings.

Blessed are you who agitate the placid waters of complacency; you will create waves in the inertia of privilege, and will know the thrill of riding the surf of change.

Blessed are you who lead with enthusiasm and confidence, resisting the temptation to shame the apathetic or self-absorbed; you will inspire curiosity and hope in others.

Blessed are you who play as well as work; you will have more fun, build more energy, and will draw the powers of the impish to you cause.

Blessed are you who ask for help in your role as leaders; you will find teachers at every turn, and your work will remain interesting and alive.

Blessed are you, when wrongfully attacked, find safe outlets for your righteous rage; your mind will be clear, your decisions strategic, and your progress will not be derailed by the backlash of the fearful.

Blessed are you who do not demonize your opponents; your eyes and your hearts will be open.

Blessed are you who sing and dance; you will find energy and joy to lift you on your journey.

Blessed are you who offer thanks and praise five-fold for every critique; your children will want to visit after they are grown, people will want to serve on your committees, and friends will be interested in your opinions.

Blessed are you who study the rhythms of history; you will have knowledge with which to shape the future.

Blessed are you who work in coalition rather than in principled isolation; you will meet great people, learn things you didn't realize you needed to know, and have partners for the journey when you are in the lead, or in need.

Blessed are you who volunteer to be secretary and take good minutes; your words will become history, and your efforts will move steadily forward rather than running absent mindedly over thoroughly discussed ground.

Blessed are you who discover, train and encourage young leaders; you will see your work expand and grow beyond your own time and talent.

Blessed are you who can change your mind; you are still alive.

Blessed are you who will not let the perfect be the enemy of the good; you will see progress in your lifetime.

Blessed are you with an active spiritual life; you will find perspective and comfort in times of loss and betrayal, and will rise without cynicism to meet the challenges of a new day.

Blessed are you who live from a place of gratitude; for you will know the meaning of Life.

Choose to Bless the World

Author: 
Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker

Your gifts, whatever you discover them to be‚
can be used to bless or curse the world.
The mind's power,
The strength of the hands,
The reaches of the heart,
The gift of speaking, listening, imagining, seeing, waiting
Any of these can serve to feed the hungry,
Bind up wounds,
Welcome the stranger,
Praise what is sacred,
Do the work of justice
Or offer love.
Any of these can draw down the prison door,
Hoard bread,
Abandon the poor,
Obscure what is holy,
Comply with injustice
Or withhold love.
You must answer this question:
What will you do with your gifts?
Choose to bless the world.
The choice to bless the world can take you into solitude
To search for the sources of power and grace;
Native wisdom, healing, and liberation.
More, the choice will draw you into community,
The endeavor shared,
The heritage passed on,
The companionship of struggle,
The importance of keeping faith,
The life of ritual and praise,
The comfort of human friendship,
The company of earth
The chorus of life welcoming you.
None of us alone can save the world.
Together‚ that is another possibility waiting.

Sometimes

Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail.
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best intentions do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

- Sheenagh Pugh

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