Leaves of Faith

What Is Hope?

Author: 
Rubem Alves

What is hope?

It is a presentiment that imagination is more real

and reality less real than it looks.

It is a hunch

that the overwhelming brutality of facts

that oppress and repress is not the last word.

It is a suspicion

that reality is more complex

than realism wants us to believe

and that the frontiers of the possible

are not determined by the limits of the actual

and that in a miraculous and unexpected way

life is preparing the creative events

which will open the way to freedom and resurrection…

The two, suffering and hope, live from each other.

Suffering without hope

produces resentment and despair,

hope without suffering

creates illusions, naivete, and drunkenness…

Let us plant dates

even though those who plant them will never eat them.

We must live by the love of what we will never see.

This is the secret discipline.

It is a refusal to let the creative act

be dissolved in immediate sense experience

and a stubborn commitment to the future of our grandchildren.

Such disciplined love

is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints

the courage to die for the future they envisaged.

They made their own bodies

the seed of their highest hope.


Rubem A. Alves, Tomorrow’s Child, 1972

Self Portrait

Author: 
David Whyte

It doesn't interest me if there is one God or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world with its harsh need
to change you.
If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand.
I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

- David Whyte

Cultivate the Habit of Being Grateful

Author: 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Grant That I May Pass Through the Coming Year

Author: 
Dr. Howard Thurman

Grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart.
There will be much to test me and make weak my strength before the year ends.
In my confusion I shall often say the word that is not true
and do the thing of which I am ashamed.
There will be errors in the mind and great inaccuracies of judgment...
In seeking the light, I shall again and again find myself
walking in the darkness.
I shall mistake my light for Your light
and I shall drink from the responsibility of the choice I make.
Nevertheless, grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart.
May I never give the approval of my heart to error, to falseness, to vanity, to sin.
Though my days be marked with failures, stumblings, fallings,
let my spirit be free so that You may take it
and redeem my moments in all the ways my needs reveal.
Give me the quiet assurance of Your Love and Presence.
Grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart.

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.

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